Prevailing social norms in Jordan – which favor large family sizes, male offspring, and short birth intervals – hinder family planning practices.
In 2016, the Jordan Communication, Advocacy, and Policy (JCAP) project partnered with a local non-government organization to teach young people about family planning in conservative governorates – Ma’an and Tafileh – in the south. A core group of 20 Jordanians, from ages 18 to 29, produced short movies promoting family planning practices.
In these conservative and underprivileged areas, the youth broke the social taboo of talking about family planning, publicly endorsing views against their social norms, and mingling and dealing with youth of the opposite sex.
The result was four emotionally packed silent movies:
- Family: An anecdotal portrayal of sharing in large families. The movie uses a bowl of popcorn that everybody eats from to symbolize the thinning of family resources distributed over large numbers;
- Family Dream: A film that stresses the important role of the husband’s participation and responsibility in family planning practices;
- We Draw our Lives: A movie about family planning decision-making. It uses drawings showing social pressures on the couple to have boys and a large family; and
- My Oversized Dress: A sad and powerful movie about child marriage showing a 13-year old girl wearing red lipstick and awkwardly dressed in an over-sized white wedding dress. The movie ends with the message, “Early marriage deprives girls of their right to play, learn, and live.”
Speaking to the Heart and Mind
“These young people succeeded in creating four moving silent movies that talk to the mind and heart,” said Carlos Cuéllar, M.D., Acting JCAP Chief of Party. “The power of these movies lies in the boldness of the messages and in the story of the people who made them.”
They scheduled several screenings of their films, reaching 800 viewers in eight districts in the Kingdom. The movies will enter a competition on JCAP social media platforms.
“These young men and women with no prior experience in filmmaking came together against social resistance and generated creative ways to deliver sensitive messages through a medium and in a way which other youth can relate to,” Cuéllar said.