Chin Sreyvy, 20, has worked in the factory for five years. She is currently single but she wants to make sure she understands about contraception so that when she does have a partner she is empowered with sufficient knowledge to make informed decisions about pregnancy.
Sreyvy has been watching a drama video show developed by CARE as part of Partnering to Save Lives. The video series charts the progress of three women working in a garment factory as they navigate relationships and decisions about their reproductive health. Workers in Phnom Penh factories have been watching these videos and discussing what they have seen.
CARE has found that women are responding very well to the films. “I like the video where Daneth and Pheavy discuss contraception with Auntie Chea,” says Sreyvy. “She gives advice to Daneth and Pheavy so they can protect themselves from pregnancy.” By sharing information though a drama rather than simple instructional videos, workers are able to relate to the characters. This emotional connection leads them to become enthusiastic learners as they are enjoying themselves while still taking in valuable information.
The drama storylines are also encouraging women to discuss topics which may seem sensitive with friends and peers more than before, as they can refer to the situations of the various characters. One worker says, “After watching the video my friends ask me about contraceptive for prevent pregnancy… My friends and I will choose a contraceptive method to avoid becoming pregnant.” Sreyvy is very clear about what she has learned from watching the dramas. “Before joining the video session I didn’t have any information about the pill, but now I have it,” she says.
The video isn’t just helping unmarried women. It’s also ensuring married women have more choice. Sou Orn, who already has one child, says, “From this video I learned about other types of contraception besides the pill. I think this is very important because choosing when to have our children helps us to start saving money before having a baby. In the future, I will use choose an IUD.”
Sreyvy is confident about following the example of the characters she has watched. “When I have a partner, I will go to the health center for counseling on contraceptives if I don’t want to have baby yet.” The dramas are not only providing positive female role models who are confident to take action to protect themselves from unplanned pregnancy; they also encourage women to be supportive of the situations and decisions of others. As Tum Ty, one of Sreyvy’s colleagues says, “When Sopheak [becomes pregnant], Daneth and Pheavy don’t hate her.” This is important in a culture where unmarried women being sexually active is often frowned upon.
The films are also appealing to men—at one screening it was the male workers who immediately asked when they could see the next episode. The videos depict equal relationships where women and men make informed decisions together. As well as showing men who are respectful of their girlfriends’ wishes, this also encourages women to be confident about talking to men about preventing pregnancy.
Sreyvy summarises what she will do differently having watched these videos: “In the future, if I have partner I will use contraception. If I don’t want to have a baby I will discuss this with my partner.”
These activities are part of Partnering to Save Lives, which is funded by the Australian Government.