Notes to broadcasters
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The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that all children have the right to adequate nutrition. But in some communities girls are denied proper food if there isn’t enough to go around. The following program is about a family that questions, and changes, this practice.
The story is told from the point of view of a young girl, Sara, and her mother. It could also be adapted and told entirely in Sara’s voice in the form of a daily diary. One way to involve children in programs about children’s rights and issues is for them to produce their own radio diaries, where they regularly record observations and insights about the events in their lives.
This script can be used with scripts 1 and 2 from Package 59 (April 2001), “Sara stays in school” and “Sara learns about health and nutrition.” Or, you could create other episodes to make a short radio serial drama following events in the life of Sara and her family.
Intro. theme music and hold under host (5 secs).
Welcome back to our series about issues that affect children in our communities. On our program [yesterday/last week/
], we heard about a few simple ways to help your children grow healthy by getting the right kinds of food to eat, and enough of it. Today, we’ll talk about how girls sometimes don’t get the food they need, and how to change that. In the following story, a young girl and her mother question the value of practices that favour boys at the expense of girls.
One of the proudest days of my life was the day that my daughter received her school certificate. It wasn’t common for girls in my family to go to school, so I was especially proud.
I always did well in my classes, and got good grades. One year my grades were so high that I was at the top of my class!
Usually Sara did do well in school. But there was a time when I noticed a change in her. It was just before harvest season. She seemed really tired and she wasn’t helping with the chores much… she kept complaining that she didn’t have enough energy to do anything.
I was too tired to help my mother. And I didn’t want to study either. I knew that my grades were falling, but I didn’t say anything to my parents.
One day, Sara’s father and I went to meet her teacher at the school. The teacher told us that Sara’s grades had fallen, and that she might fail two of her classes. As you can imagine, we were very worried.
I never answered questions in class any more. One day in geography class I even fell asleep. But I didn’t know what was wrong!
The teacher told us this was not the first time she’d noticed a change in Sara. And then she asked a clever question. She asked us if Sara was getting enough to eat.
My teacher must have noticed that I was thin and looked pale. It’s true that I usually felt hungry just before harvest time — that’s when our food stores are almost empty.
I told the teacher that we often distribute food in the family a little differently when the supply is low. This usually happens close to harvest season, or when there’s a drought. It’s a tradition that girls and women in my family are given less to eat at these times. It may be wrong, but we have always believed that men need more food to do their work properly.
I always accepted this tradition. At certain times of the year, I knew that my mother had less to eat than my father, and I had less to eat than my brother. Nobody really questioned it.
The teacher suggested that now was the time to reconsider this family tradition. Sara’s health was at risk. She pointed out that Sara was getting sick, and that she worked hard at school and at home. There was no reason that she should have less food than her brother.
I think that for the first time, my parents really thought about this tradition that had been part of my family for so long. They realized that the girls in the family should eat as well as the boys. I was working hard, like everybody else.
Since then, if we’re short of food in the hungry season, I serve everybody a little bit less — not just Sara. And we all get some of the best parts of the [meat/fish] we eat. Not just the men and boys, but girls too. And I take some for myself. We might have less to eat, but we manage, and it’s more equal that way.
After that I went back to school, and my grades started to improve. I was able to work hard in the fields at harvest time. I was more helpful to everyone.
Fade up theme music.
Undernourished or hungry children get poor grades at school, and are too tired to help with chores at home. Sara and her family learned this the hard way. Parents must make sure that all of their children have a healthy diet — both girls and boys.
Contributed by Jennifer Pittet, Thornbury, Ontario, Canada.
Reviewed by Hélène Delisle, Department of Nutrition, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal, Montreal, Canada.
Burgess, Ann. Community nutrition for Eastern Africa. African Medical and Research Foundation, 1994.
Oniango’o, Ruth, and Edith Mukudi. “Nutrition and Gender.” Nutrition: A Foundation for Development. Washington: United Nations System Standing Committee on Nutrition and the International Food Policy Research Institute, 2002.
Richman, Joe. “How to make your own radio diary“.