Meena is a fictional character who stars in the South Asian children’s television show Meena created by UNICEF. The show has been broadcast in English, Bengali, Hindi, Nepali, and Urdu. Meena educates the children of South Asia on issues of gender, health, and social inequality through her stories in comic books, animated films (Meena Cartoon), and radio series (affiliated with the BBC). Secondary characters of her stories include her brother Raju and her pet parrot Mithu. Her adventures include attempting to get an education, having an equal share of food as Raju, and learning about the HIV, the right way to give birth to a baby, and helping people. All of her stories advocate change in social and cultural practices.
Her popularity is due to her not being closely bound to just one country or culture of South Asia, but uniting the common characteristics of them all. The character of Meena was created by a team of people in UNICEF, led by Neill McKee, head of the Communication Section in the early 1990s. He engaged Rachel Carnegie as the main facilitator and brought in Ram Mohan, a famous Indian cartoonist, Dr. Mira Aghi of India as chief researcher and Nuzhat Shahzadi (script co-writer and implementation coordinator for Bangladesh). They consulted UNICEF teams, NGOs, and government people and carried out hundreds of focus groups and individual interviews through out the region to arrive at the characters, names, backgrounds and stories. The first Meena episode was then launched in 1993 on Bangladesh Television in Dhaka.
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