A Struggling Generation Can Be The Change
In a region crippled by division and a lack of human rights, a “youth bulge” in the population could be a powerful asset. But many young people in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are losing hope. They have an urgent need for information and inspiration – and now, SAT-7 ARABIC is creating programs to equip them.
Human rights violations are well-documented across the MENA. Many lives are blighted by violence, oppression, and a lack of political representation.
For those who are different, such as members of ethnic or religious minorities or refugees, a lack of tolerance also leaves them excluded and vulnerable. To make matters worse, a lack of social cohesion hinders development and humanitarian projects, too.
In this divided region, a full third of the Arab population is younger than 30. This new generation – the region’s largest ever – could have boundless potential for lifting it out of intolerance and repression.
But many young people are disillusioned by political failures since 2011’s “Arab Spring”, and they are ground down by immense economic challenges and a lack of political representation.
Many are at risk of giving up altogether on a brighter future. And, without their participation, lasting positive change will not become a reality.
A voice for change
With its 15-million-strong audience across the Arabic-speaking world, SAT-7 ARABIC has an incredibly powerful platform for promoting human rights and positive social change. Now, the channel is developing exciting new shows that will appeal to this critical audience of under-35s, who make up 55 percent of its viewership.
With a whole new human-rights-based approach to current affairs, the programs will equip viewers to think critically for themselves, treat others with tolerance, and advocate for their own rights.
The power of humour
The programming will come in three parts. The first is a daily, magazine-style program. Through a variety of segments, this morning show will help viewers critically analyse news stories and use social media in positive ways.
Then, viewers will enjoy an entertaining sitcom drama, which will explore themes of gender equality, inclusion, and respect for human rights.
“Youth will be able to relate, and to laugh,” says SAT-7 Development Manager Nicoletta Michael. “The program will dramatise the stereotypes that many viewers buy into themselves. It may come as a shock to them to realise that these behaviours that are uncomfortable to watch, are things they themselves do.”
Lastly, viewers will learn from a series of “public service announcement” shorts (PSAs), which will include songs and campaign messages based on different aspects of human rights.
“Think, feel, do”
“We are following an approach based on ‘think, feel, and do’,” says Nicoletta Michael. “The magazine show will get viewers thinking. The drama will prompt them to respond emotionally, through identification with characters or strong negative reactions to unhealthy behaviours. Then, the PSAs will show them how to take action.”
In this way, the programming will prompt young viewers to make changes where it is easiest for them: in their own behaviour, and in their local communities. The shows will have a particular focus on the rights and inclusion of members of minority faith groups.
As George Makeen, SAT-7 Arabic Channels Programming Director, explains, the show’s impact will broaden out from there.
“The ultimate aim is to make a positive impact on the whole of society, as viewers’ critical thinking, understanding of democratic values, and awareness of human rights grows and spreads,” he says.
EDUCATION BEYOND TELEVISION
Alongside the SAT-7 ACADEMY channel, SAT-7 has launched an e-learning platform on a new interactive website, www.sat7academy.com. Here viewers can watch programs on demand, customise their learning, and track their progress.