Women leaders on air at Radio Ouaké

August 05, 2019
A translation for this article is available in French

In many places across Africa, women are regarded as second to their husbands and fathers. But on Radio Ouaké, women are portrayed as leaders. The station broadcasts from western Benin and airs a program called Leadership féminin (Women in leadership) that shows women in leadership roles and discusses the work of rural women. The goal of the program is to teach listeners that women and men are equal and deserve equal rights.

The production team is made up of journalists Clément Sodji and Jocelyne Hessou, technician Arouna Soumanou, and station director Madjid Tchaleji. To reach as many people as possible in the local community, the program is broadcast in three languages: Lokpa, Foodo, and Fulfide. It airs twice a week: Wednesdays at 8 p.m. and Saturdays at 11 a.m.

To choose a topic each week, the team consults national and international news, as well as local stories from field visits. The team tries to identify stories about inspirational women. For example, last year, the station aired an episode about decision-making. The program featured discussions about the unequal distribution of power between men and women and women’s lack of autonomy in decision-making in the community.

Leadership féminin is a platform to raise a variety of social issues, including gender-based violence and marital conflict, as well as an opportunity to share income-generating possibilities and to discuss persistent inequalities between women and men. In the 27-minute program, the production team tackles important subjects at the local level and has acquired a loyal following. Women’s voices are woven throughout the program, including rural women, gender experts, journalists, and local leaders.

It hasn’t been easy to get women to discuss sensitive topics. For security reasons, many women don’t want to talk about issues like gender-based violence, as their name or voice may be recognized by community members, including their husbands. It can also be difficult to interview resource people about sensitive topics. But consulting resource people on such topics is important. They can offer advice on what terms to use when talking about various issues, the best ways to address myths and misconceptions, and recommend resources to listeners.

When discussing violence against women in a recent episode, the broadcasters mentioned how laws in Benin protect women from abuse—and how they fall short. The program also discussed the issue of women who choose to leave unhappy marriages or abusive relationships and what they can do about their land and crops.

Women are encouraged to add their voices to the discussion by calling in to the program or participating in field interviews and focus group discussions. The program features a variety of formats, including vox pops, studio interviews, field interviews, and local music.

At the end of every episode, the hosts sign off with the slogan: “Radio Ouaké, always by your side.”

Farm Radio International congratulates the team at Radio Ouaké for their hard work, which was recognized when the station was named a runner-up for the Liz Hughes Award for Her Farm Radio.