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The Craft of Visual Storytelling

Prevailing social norms in favor of large family sizes, preference for male offspring, and short birth intervals hinder family planning practices in Jordan.

In 2016, USAID partnered with a local non-government organization to teach youth about family planning in al Hasa and Husainyah in Maan and Tafileh governorates. A core group of 20 Jordanian youths set out to produce short movies promoting family planning practices. In these conservative and underprivileged areas, the youth broke the social taboo of talking about family planning, publicly endorsed views against their social norms, and overcame the social constraint of mingling and dealing with youth of the other 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 dips into 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.

My over-sized 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.”

The youth succeeded in creating four moving silent movies that talk to the mind and heart. They scheduled several screening of their films reaching 800 viewers in eight districts in the Kingdom. The movies will enter a competition on JCAP social media platforms, which had a reach of 13 million by March 31.