Using Behavior Change Communications to Increase Women's Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
January 20, 2016Washington, D.C.

A Gender and Development Seminar Series event

Sexual and reproductive health and rights are important ends in themselves and can have invaluable benefits for women’s own health and nutrition, education and livelihoods and for the well-being of their families. Yet globally we see large numbers of women and girls with unmet need for contraceptives, high numbers of unintended pregnancies and large gaps between actual and expressed ideal family size.

High maternal mortality and high rates of HIV/AIDS among young women – HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death globally among women of reproductive age – are some of the manifestations of women's and girls' lack of sexual and reproductive agency. Gendered social norms around sexuality are learned by boys and girls from their families and communities and affect the choices made in adult life, and so increasing women and girls' agency over their sexual and reproductive health requires more than provision of family planning services – it requires a major shift in societal attitudes and knowledge.

The Population Media Center uses a theory-based approach to behavior change communications to encourage the adoption of healthier attitudes and behaviors to benefit individuals and societies. They focus on reproductive health and emphasize the rights of women and girls. PMC specializes in creating long-running serialized dramas, also known as soap operas, on radio and television. In the dramas, key characters evolve into role models for the audience, resulting in positive behavior change. In this presentation, PMC Chairman of the Board and CEO Bill Ryerson will present examples of PMCs work, illustrating how programs are designed to elicit positive behavior change, and discuss evaluations of the results achieved.

  • Bill Ryerson

    Bill Ryerson is Founder and President of Population Media Center (PMC), an organization that strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education strategies. He also serves as Chair and CEO of The Population Institute in Washington, D.C., which works in partnership with Population Media Center. Ryerson has a 45-year history of working in the field of reproductive health, including 29 years of experience adapting the Sabido methodology of social change communications to various cultural settings worldwide. Ryerson received a B.A. in Biology (Magna Cum Laude) from Amherst College and an M.Phil. in Biology from Yale University (with specialization in Ecology and Evolution). He served as Director of the Population Institute's Youth and Student Division, Development Director of Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania, Associate Director of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and Executive Vice President of Population Communications International before founding Population Media Center in 1998.
  • Lucia Hanmer

    Lucia Hanmer is a Lead Economist in Gender and Development at the World Bank Group. She served previously as senior economic adviser for the Economic Empowerment Section at UN Women and senior economic adviser at the UK's Department for International Development, after serving as Country Representative for the World Bank in Guyana. She was a researcher at the UK's Overseas Development Institute and taught economics at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague. Much of her work has been in sub-Saharan Africa. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Cambridge.
  • Sameera Al Tuwaijri

    Dr. Sameera Al Tuwaijri is currently a Lead Health Specialist at the HNP global practice of the World Bank. She is a board certified OB/GYN with over 10 years of experience in clinical practice before she embarked on studying Public Health. She has a master’s in public health from Harvard University, a Ph.D. in health policy and a post-doctoral fellowship from Johns Hopkins. For over a decade now, she has been working on reproductive health and women empowerment. Prior to joining the WB in 2010, she was the regional adviser, RH policy for UNFPA, Arab States, the director of the ILO's program on Public Health and Safety and just returned from an external service assignment where she served as the first regional director, Arab States, UN Women.
Event Details
  • When: 12-1:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: MC C1-100, World Bank Group Headquarters