Many of Afghanistan’s citizens, particularly youth, have limited opportunity to learn about, and engage in, their country’s rule of law. Equal Access International is helping to change this story by developing and producing the rule of law-focused participatory radio drama series One Village, A Thousand Voices. This engaging radio series is currently broadcast across all 34 Afghan provinces and features stories about young Afghans seeking a voice in village-level justice decision making. As Afghanistan has one of the highest proportions of young people in the world, stories with young Afghan men and women is critical to ensuring the civic participation of the country’s citizenry. As of June 2014, Equal Access has developed 100 episodes of this radio series, 50 in the Dari language and 50 in the Pashto language.
Consistent with Equal Access’ commitment to inform, educate and inspire, this innovative radio drama is designed to encourage listeners to participate. After a radio episode is broadcast on Monday, listeners are invited to contribute ideas and suggestions to the storylines via SMS and voicemail. Listener feedback informs the development of the characters and the overall story arc of the series. The Friday broadcast is followed by an interactive 15 minute live call-in program, produced and managed by Radio Azadi, to encourage further dialogue. Included in these dialogues are the promotion of rule of law, the importance of seeking safe and practical solutions to challenges in their communities, and successful ways listeners can foster change and progress.
As [an] elder of my village, I appreciate the positive efforts made by youth in this drama. I assure you that I will invite the youth of my village to accompany me in resolving disputes.
– Listener from Kunar Province
One Village, A Thousand Voices has become a popular radio series and the live call-in segment regularly receives more than two calls every minute from audience members. The audience feedback includes praise for the drama and its content, language and effectiveness. An external evaluation, conducted by Sayara Strategies, also confirms the radio series’ popularity and effectiveness. The evaluation found that youth and elder focus group participants demonstrated an increased acceptance that youth could and should be involved in community dispute resolutions, as they can make positive contributions to conflict resolution. The evaluation found that 95 percent of those surveyed who were aware of the program had listened to it multiple times and that 73 percent would recommend it to their friends and family. One Village, A Thousand Voices is empowering youth to become more involved in their country’s rule of law, thereby broadening access to justice in Afghanistan not only for them, but future generations to come.