In Mozambique, Pathfinder trains people to develop short videos to build awareness on child marriage and gender-based violence
Supervisor and Storyteller
Day to day, Jose Mpingo supervises Pathfinder’s USAID-funded Preventing Child Marriage in Cabo Delgado program, which shifts social norms and behaviors that perpetuate child, early, and forced marriage. The program seeks to develop adolescent girls’ and young women’s agency and intention to avoid early marriage, complete school, earn an income, and access health and social services.
Jose monitors community-based activities and provides technical support to community facilitators and young activists trained by the program, improving their ability to conduct community awareness-raising activities. These include facilitating community dialogues and debates using video screenings for, and educational games and sports for adolescents.
When the program offered a video education workshop for staff, Jose jumped at the opportunity, and today, he produces content with community members that he hopes will encourage change.
To conduct the workshop, Pathfinder partnered with IlluminAid, an organization that equips and trains organizations to produce and share low-cost video content, which in turn, helps to educate and safeguard local communities. During a four-day training, Pathfinder staff learned to record and produce short educational videos for change. Pathfinder also purchased camera equipment and solar projectors, allowing staff to screen videos in rural communities. These videos are used to spark discussion on subjects like child marriage, contraceptive options, and gender-based violence.
For Jose, the training was invaluable . “Young women in Cabo Delgado face several difficulties, such as gender-based violence, child marriage, and poverty,” says Jose. “Nowadays, they have additional challenges because they also face the consequences of the ongoing terrorism that is affecting the province.” Determined to help facilitate change, Jose sees stories as a powerful way to reach community members and tackle these challenges.
“The screening of locally produced videos has many advantages,” says Jose. “They are a great education tool. Through the screening sessions, I see that girls are learning about the negative impacts of child marriage — about what to do if it happens to them or other girls, and on getting information on where to seek help. The videos are very helpful in the retention of information and are very effective in educating, as well as raising awareness and reflection.”
Behavior Change at Pathfinder
The videos are one example of Pathfinder’s social and behavior change approach. Pathfinder programs deploy communication and engagement strategies to promote beliefs that advance SRHR and contribute to gender equity.
For Jose, he saw how short videos had a direct impact.
“I remember well,” he says, “a participant of one of the community debates using a video screening in Gingonoe neighborhood in Pemba City. He was a man in his forties and a father of adolescent girls who approached me after the debate. We had viewed a video depicting a girl who escaped from a child marriage, thanks to the intervention of her grandmother. This man was very encouraged by the video and came up to me very excited, saying, ‘I liked the video very much. I’ve learned about things I didn’t know about. As caregivers, we cannot support child marriage; we cannot keep silent. We should follow the example of this grandmother who forbade her granddaughters from early marriage. Now I know how I should act. I know now that it is a crime. I know that anyone can report.’”
“I see that the videos are changing attitudes and behaviors of people in the communities,” says Jose.
Seeing that the Cabo Delgado program seeks to ensure women and girls have the resources they need to succeed, Jose produced two short videos documenting the experiences of two young women who initiated income-generating activities through their participation in savings and credit groups for young women.
“These videos are meant to document stories of change in the project, but could also be screened in the communities to encourage girls and young women to join similar groups and to believe in themselves and in their capacities,” says Jose. “There are young women who do not have the confidence that they could one day open up a small business and work outside their homes, and the testimony of these young women in the videos can be inspirational for them. They can motivate them and make them say, ‘Yes, I can! It is possible! By joining these groups, for example, I can make my dreams come true!’” “These videos could also make caregivers or husbands of these young women become more supportive to the participation of their daughters or wives in the savings and credit groups the project is implementing,” he adds.
Ancha Bau, in her video, talks about the program, saying, “This business has changed my life a lot, because before that, I could not buy anything, as I lacked my own money. But now I am able to buy what I need, such as clothes or pay school fees, get notebooks and the school uniform. If my business develops in the future, I will buy my own plot of land to build my house and help my brothers.”
Jose said he will continue to take on this work, feeling that it has a real impact. “Personally, I’ve always liked the communication world, but it was thanks to the illuminAid training that I developed my skills, and through the filming experience, I can see the improvements I am making in the quality of the videos.” He adds, “The audio-visual communication is very powerful, and it contributes to changing behaviors. I would say that the video screenings contribute to making changes faster. We have people in the communities who cannot read, and the video is very appealing to them.”
He adds, “The use of local languages in the videos really touches these communities, and it makes it easier for girls and adults to integrate the messages of the videos. When they see on the screen a girl or a local leader speaking in their own language, it feels first hand, close to them, and they understand it easily. They think, ‘that person is like us, is from our community,’ and feel reflected in the characters or the stories.”