MEENA COMMUNICATION INITIATIVE
This page is dedicated to the memory of Ram Mohan, father of animated film in South Asia
UNICEF's Meena Communication Initiative has been operating in South Asia since 1992. It was designed to build children's life skills and involve parents, communities, and leaders in addressing all forms of gender discrimination against young South Asian girls.
Meena has also been integrated into many health, education, and other child rights programs as can be seen by the topics on the comic books and videos below. Neill McKee came up with the original concept for Meena when he was UNICEF's chief of communication in Dhaka, Bangladesh during 1990-93. He raised the initial funds and brought on board a wonderful team (see below).
Meena materials are very well-known and still used today throughout the region. Some national language versions are still available online or available from UNICEF country offices. See documentation below for more detail.
Meena's Core Team: Rachel Carnegie was creative designer, first coordinator/co-manager with McKee; Ram Mohan artist and animator, first worked with Hanna Barbera's FIL Cartoons in Manila, Philippines, before taking over all the work with his team in Mumbai, India; and Dr. Mira Aghi, was regional research director and trainer. Nuzhat Shahzadi became engaged in Meena story creation starting in 1992, and then was first Meena focal point for Bangladesh. After Carnegie left, Shahzadi took over as Meena coordinator/manager for regional episodes already started during 1994-95. During this first phase, 8 regional episodes were completed. Also, a partnership was initiated with BRAC for wide utilization of the Meena materials and stories through its grassroot channels, including non-formal primary schools and the Meena team was housed in BRAC from 1995 to June 1996.
Due to the continuing strong support of Morten Giersing, then UNICEF's regional communication officer, a Meena regional coordinator's post was created to take over management at UNICEF's regional office and Kathmandu, Nepal. Christian Clark became the first regional coordinator during 1994-99 and during his time, four additional episodes were created, based on research the regional team had completed. Shahzadi took over from him during 2001-2004, after completing her role as the Sara Communication Initiative coordinator in Africa during 1996-2001. Shahzadi led the creation of 20 new Meena videos (including 6-one minute TV spots), with comic books and facilitator's guides. Carnegie, Mohan, and Dr. Aghi remained involved in Meena throughout the time regional episodes were produced. (Most episodes can be seen below, but not in exact order of creation.)
Original country focal points included Renu Ghosh in India, Raana Syed and Ramzan Azhar in Pakistan, Sharad Ranjit in Nepal, who all played crucial roles. Mira Mitra who took over as Meena's national focal point in Bangladesh in 1997, keeping the initiative very much alive in Bangladesh and creating new episodes for Bangladesh use until she retired in 2015, when Tania Sultana took over. In the credits of the comic books and videos, below, they and other researchers, artists, and UNICEF staff members are mentioned. Mumbai based Deepa Balsavar, a writer and an educationist, and Harsha Mehta, with coordination expertise, joined the regional team and assisted in various productions.
"It is through storytelling that we are given direction, values, vision and inspiration."
- Brian McLaren
A special thanks to the Government of Norway for supporting Meena from 1991 to 2004
MEENA COMIC BOOKS & VIDEO LINKS
Asian language versions available at
UNICEF country offices and on YouTube
MORE MEENA DOCUMENTATIOM
Click on link below:
Meena was only possible through the unwavering support from the Government of Norway from 1991 to 2004, as fully documented here: