Using radio to enable women address challenges

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[NAIROBI]That radio is the most popular communication channel for disseminating and sharing information in Africa is indeed unquestionable.

I learnt during an international event this week (15-17 October) in Nairobi, Kenya, that radio plays a vital role in participation of women in development projects.

The event — Sharefair on Rural Women’s Technologies to Improve Food Security, Nutrition and Productive Family Farming — showed the power of radio as a communication tool for empowering women in several African countries. 

For example, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Radio Bubusa started working with Food Agriculture Organization (FAO)’s Dimitra project in 2006, with groups of women, men and youth coming together to regularly discuss the challenges facing their communities, make decisions and act to mitigate these challenges.

“Dimitra is a participatory information and communication project which contributes to improving the visibility of rural populations, women in particular.”

Andrea Sánchez, FAO

The Dimitra project is also being implemented in Burundi, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal with a strategic goal of reducing poverty by reaching more than 1,000 listeners’ clubs in Africa.

“Dimitra is a participatory information and communication project which contributes to improving the visibility of rural populations, women in particular,” says Andrea Sánchez, FAO gender and rural development consultant.

Sánchez adds that the project addresses access to land resources and educate women on themes such as agriculture, food security, gender, health, information and communication technologies (ICTs), knowledge management, education and violence against women.

Adeline Nsimire, an expert in gender empowerment who is involved in the Democratic Republic of Congo project, says: “Our aim is to highlight the role of women and men as producers so that their perspectives and interests are better considered and they can fully participate in the rural development of their communities and country at large”. 

Nsimire adds that rural women have now been empowered, adding that the project has also increased the adoption and use of modern technologies, access to markets and farming innovations for marginalised women and the youth.

“We are experiencing a reduction in gender-based violence and other conflicts that hinder development because everyone is now talking about this through Bubusa radio,” Nsimire notes.

She, however, says that much still needs to be done for rural women to realise their full potential, noting that women in the Democratic Republic of Congo still have low esteem compared to their male counterparts.

“We have the technologies with us, [but] ensuring that women are equipped with skills for [their] adoption and use is the most critical aspect to be addressed,” Nsimire explains.

Certainly radio can be used effectively for empowering women to aid development in Africa as it is widely accessible and cheap to acquire.

More radio programmes, therefore, need to be developed to empower Africans, especially women, to address challenges in their lives, including poverty.

This article has been produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa desk.