Women and men who watched SAT-7’s Arabic women’s programme Needle and New Thread were more likely to support women’s rights to live free from violence and discrimination, says an independent evaluation that shows the programme successfully raised awareness among high percentages of viewers.
The results of the final evaluation of the programme, released last month, reveal that Needle and New Thread successfully gave women and men a platform to discuss issues such as gender-based violence, Freedom of Religion and Belief, and other taboo issues clearly, persistently, and concretely. Some 93 percent of female viewers said that the programme helped them understand that they have the right to live free from violence, while 89 percent of male viewers said the programme increased their understanding that women have this right and should also have the freedom to speak up.
Both men and women viewers were less likely than non-viewers to say they would blame female victims of sexual harassment, and among women, more viewers said they would feel able to tell their families if they had been harassed.
Significantly, male viewers were more likely to believe women should have freedom to express themselves and make choices for their own lives and, more likely to agree that women victims of domestic violence should be able to seek support. In addition, 100 percent of people who watched an episode on property rights believed daughters should inherit equally to sons compared with 72 percent of non-viewers.
The problem is in guys’ minds, and the way we think of girls.”
“The problem is in guys’ minds, and the way we think of girls. The solution is for us to change and to raise girls to be stronger. I now realise that I can be part of the efforts for change,” said one male survey respondent.
After watching Needle and New Thread, which ran on SAT-7 ARABIC from 2018 until 2021*, 92 percent of men and 90 percent of women said they were willing to take action to support women’s rights.
A PLATFORM FOR CHANGE
Research into the impact of the programme included an online survey of more than 1,000 participants from multiple religious backgrounds, as well as shorter telephone interviews of viewers and non-viewers from across the Middle East and North Africa. In addition, 17 focus groups were conducted in five different communities in Egypt with 100 girls, women and men from different educational backgrounds, age groups and income levels.
Throughout the evaluation, women shared that they saw that their own daily struggles, and those of other women, accurately represented on Needle and New Thread. One female participant said, “These are painful experiences, but I thought they were normal parts of being a woman – things we don’t talk about – but it’s time to start talking about them.”
The programme also presented examples of women overcoming these obstacles, inspiring in viewers a desire to do the same. Another participant shared, “When the girls in the video talked about freedom, I wished I could talk like them.”
The programme also connected viewers to potential lines of support, with local NGO partners reporting a considerable increase in calls for help following their appearance on the programme.
The external evaluator concluded, “The results from the survey and focus groups indicate that the programme provides a platform for its participants and its viewers to open the conversation on issues such as Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) and women’s rights. The programme indeed sparked the question, and allows its viewers to see existing issues from new perspectives.”
As a recommendation for further impact, the evaluator continued, “It is now an advantageous time for television programmes to put a greater emphasis on addressing men and boys, to redefine masculinity and gender roles, and to tackle structural imbalances by addressing those who hold the power.”
*A previous programme ran from 2013-2017 in a slightly different format under the title Needle and Thread