In Uganda’s oil region, radio programs about environmental and human rights are valuable when it comes to information, accountability, and empowerment—particularly for rural women. But often, these women’s voices are left out of the discussion for various reasons: their husbands don’t want them to be interviewed, they can’t afford to buy airtime to call the radio station, or the topics being discussed don’t interest them.
Broadcasters at Community Radio Kiboga saw an opportunity to air rural women’s voices, provide radio programs that meet their needs, and make a positive impact in their communities. The result is a weekly program called Nyinabwenge, which means “Woman” in the local Runyoro language. For many women in Hoima district, the radio program is the only source of information  from outside the village.
Precious Naturinda is the host of Nyinabwenge. She says: “We ensure rural women are brought on board in discussing day-to-day issues in their community like farming, environmental conservation, food security, domestic violence, health, and social issues among others on the radio.” Other members of the production team include presenter and news reporter Dorcus Drijaru, manager Allan Kalangi, and program director Kyamanya Julius.
There are 11 women-dominated listener clubs across the station’s coverage area, and their members identify important topics for discussion and sometimes appear live on the program. If the club members can’t find transportation to the radio station, the production team assembles a pre-recorded show in the community with the listener groups and plays the recording during the live program.
It’s not easy to travel and collect these interviews, but the broadcasters at Community Radio Kiboga make the most of their trip. Ms. Naturinda says: “There is a challenge of lack of transport by community members to appear in [studio] and also lack of transport by radio staff to visit listener clubs. Once we make visits, we come up with many pre-recorded shows on different topics.”
The production team also invites gender experts, government officials, and other relevant people to appear on the program to answer questions and provide insight.
Nyinabwenge has been airing once a week since 2014, and the team is proudest of an episode they produced for the International Day of Rural Women in October 2018. It was an opportunity for rural women in the area to share their challenges and successes. A lively discussion addressed how domestic labour and other unpaid work means that women have less time to find paid, alternative employment, thus leaving them vulnerable to poverty and food insecurity. The discussion also covered how cultural norms put men in positions of power and authority when it comes to buying and selling land, crops, and livestock.
Ms. Naturinda says: “The women highlighted that despite the fact that rural women play an indispensable role in the area of food security, they still face great challenges such as limited ownership, control, and access to land.”
Programs like Nyinabwenge play an important role in advocating for gender equality and social development by providing a voice to marginalized communities and offering a platform for women to be heard and understood. The impact of the program is clear, says Ms. Naturinda, adding that one listener called into the program in tears on the International Day of Rural Women, thanking the hosts for their hard work and devotion.
Radio Kiboga was one of the runners-up for the inaugural Liz Hughes Award for Her Farm Radio, awarded by Farm Radio International on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2019.