Tips for addressing gender equality in your farmer program: Part two

December 08, 2019
A translation for this article is available in French

Last year, Farm Radio International launched the first Liz Hughes Award for Her Farm Radio. We received 40 applications. These applications included great tips for addressing gender equality in your radio program. In our last edition, we presented some of these tips. Here is the second and final collection of tips.

Make women comfortable when they participate in your interviews

Many broadcasters said they find it difficult to interview women because women are often shy or uncomfortable about answering questions or being recorded by a journalist. The broadcasters at Breeze FM in Zambia often go to the village to gather women’s voices. The women are more comfortable speaking when they are in their own environment.

Top Media is a radio station in Morogoro, Tanzania. Its broadcasting team forges a relationship with particular women farmers一by talking to them casually, building a friendship, and making them more comfortable to share their voices in an interview. The broadcasters also educate women and men on how the interview will be conducted so that they feel more comfortable being recorded.

Broadcasters at Radio Simba, in Uganda, say that they often interview women in groups so that the women feel more comfortable speaking out. If you want to do this, just make sure to get the names of the women so they can be properly identified on air!

And the broadcasters at Radio Arzèkè FM, in Benin, recommend sharing an episode of your program with interviewees. They say that women were much more interested in being interviewed after they had listened to an episode of the program.

Use a separate phone line for women callers

Many radio stations have opened up a second call-in line just for women. When a call comes in, you often aren’t sure who is calling until you pick up. Call-in shows are often dominated by male voices. By promoting one phone number just for women callers, you can be sure to get women’s voices on that line. And if a man calls the women’s number, you can politely invite them to call the other line and then hang up. Offering prizes like airtime or T-shirts can also motivate women (and men) to call in. The broadcasters at Voice of Kigezi, in Uganda, offer two prizes for men callers and two for women callers.

And while many women do not have access to their own mobile phone, broadcasters at Radio Simba, in Uganda, encourage their male listeners to pass the phone to their wives to call the station.

Keep track of the voices shared

The broadcasters at Radio Simba, in Uganda, keep close track of the number of women interacting with their program. They use Farm Radio International’s Uliza system, which helps them keep track of who is participating in polls and leaving messages. By breaking down listener feedback by gender, you can better evaluate how you are serving women. How many women’s voices did you share this month? How many minutes did they speak for? Were women experts invited on air? Women farmers? Once you have gathered this data, you can see whether your efforts to improve gender equality in your radio program are working.

Watch out for gender stereotypes

Radio Bubua broadcasts from Walungu in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo. Their program Tuitetee haki ya Mwanamke (Defending the rights of women), focuses on addressing gender-based violence in their area. They are careful about the proverbs, jargon, and beliefs shared in their program, as these can often convey sentiments that discriminate against women. It can be difficult to analyze cultural phrases and to stand up to cultural beliefs that are discriminatory, but doing so can create opportunities for empowering women.

The broadcasters at Radio Simba, in Uganda, noted that addressing gender stereotypes is a challenge they face in working on their program, Lutabanjaliire. They say they try to use words that don’t reinforce gender stereotypes, and so they consult with community and opinion leaders to understand inclusive language and strategies to demystify prejudices.

Consult a gender expert

Radio Télé Kintuadi broadcasts from Matadi in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In preparing their program, Œil sur les femmes rurales (Eye on rural women), they often consult a gender specialist. Their goal is to improve the knowledge of both rural women and decision-makers on gender issues, because gender equality is a challenge facing people in all sectors. A gender specialist can guide journalists as they explore sensitive issues. Gender specialists can be interviewed on air to share their expertise with listeners. Or the production team can consult a gender expert to understand how they should treat an issue: what questions they should ask, what terminology they should use, and any other concerns related to often controversial or sensitive subjects.

Make the program entertaining!

A common challenge for farmer programs is that they may not be as entertaining as music shows. But by incorporating music, your program can be entertaining too. When the broadcasters at Zodiac FM in Lilongwe, Malawi, prepare their Mu Ulimi Muli Phindu program, they record farmers—mainly women—singing. These songs communicate information and are often sung by farmers in their field. Musical interludes make your program more interesting, which encourages more listeners to tune in.

Dramas and even poems can also be a great tool to entertain your listeners while communicating information. If the drama unfolds across several episodes, listeners are encouraged to tune in next time. After airing the drama or poem, you could host a call-in or text-in discussion that explores the same themes.