Educating the World through Entertainment


Equal Access International

Wouldn’t it be more effective if communities around the world could learn about HIV/AIDS or empowering women from entertaining radio and television shows, instead of pamphlets? Well, Equal Access International, a nonprofit based in San Francisco, has just the solution for that.

The organization produces high quality educational programming for radio and television around the world. They produce programs in 21 languages and reach about 137 million people across nine countries, including Afghanistan, Chad, Nepal, and Cambodia.

This year the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California, awarded Equal Access International with a Tech Award in the Microsoft Education Category. The organization was awarded for dramatically expanding its reach since 2003, the first year it was honored at the Tech Awards.

“Our programs help people believe in themselves and gain the confidence and skills they need to improve their lives no matter what their circumstances,” said Ronni Goldfarb, Equal Access CEO and president in an article for The Tech.

The organization’s debut project in 2001 was “Chatting with My Best Friend.” The widely popular radio show was launched in Nepal in partnership with UNICEF, and tackles topics such as love, sex, and HIV. More than 7.2 million listeners tune in regularly.

In Afghanistan, the organization produces an interactive radio drama titled, “One Village a Thousand Voices” which encourages young Afghans to think about their choices in the community. Human trafficking and nonviolent solutions to conflict are regular themes in the show.

In Nigeria, Equal Access launched the world’s first free-to-air Hausa-language entertainment and lifestyle satellite television channel. AREWA24 reaches to 80 million Hausa speakers in and around the country and tackles various subjects such as empowering women and the role of religion in society.

“Media is one of the most powerful influences in the modern world,” Goldfarb explained in her interview with The Tech. “With the ability to reach millions, media can be used as a positive force or a force that creates fear and division.”