At Radio Maria in Tanzania, Julieth Muunga is the sole presenter and producer of a 30-minute program called Jinsia na Maendeleo (Gender and Development), which was named the runner-up for the 2022 Liz Hughes Award for Her Farm Radio.
Ms. Muunga started broadcasting in 2007 as a volunteer at two different radio stations while studying for a university certificate in Journalism at the University of Dar es Salaam.
When she began her Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication at the Open University of Tanzania in 2009, Ms. Muunga started working full-time at Radio Maria Tanzania. She says that Radio Maria Tanzania has really improved her life and professional skills.
She explains: “[Working at the radio] empowered me to learn many things and to be given the opportunity to demonstrate skills in various things [and] that builds my confidence.”
Ms. Muunga works hard to produce Jinsia na Maendeleo on her own—including finding sources, writing the script, recording, editing, and presenting. She started the program in 2020 with the aim of “raising women’s voices … promoting gender equality, and advocating for equal rights for all.”
Jinsia na Maendeleo is a program designed for both men and women and it aims to empower women and break down gender-based stereotypes.
Ms. Muunga says: “Jinsia na Maendeleo has given women a platform to share their stories about overcoming gender-based violence as well as achieving success and positions of leadership.”
Ms. Muunga says she applied to the Liz Hughes award because she thought Jinsia na Maendeleo aligned with the award’s objective to celebrate radio programs that address gender issues and amplify the voices of rural women.
After being named runner-up for the Liz Hughes award, she says that she feels respected and motivated to continue addressing gender equality and promoting women’s voices. Ms. Muunga adds that winning the award is a clear message to both her and Radio Maria Tanzania that their work is important and that they need to continue to support rural women to overcome gender inequality.
On winning the award, Ms. Muunga says: “This also goes out to all the women who participated in the program as they allowed their voices … their experiences, challenges, and achievements to be heard.”
Jinsia na Maendeleo uses a combination of jingles, vox pops, and interviews to discuss gender equality and give women a platform to speak about issues that concern them.
Although COVID-19 made it difficult for Ms. Muunga to visit her sources and conduct interviews, she was able to adapt by shifting to recorded phone interviews.
Ms. Muunga says her program is successful because she bases the material on the needs of her audience and the issues directly faced by the community. She constantly evaluates Jinsia na Maendeleo by setting goals for the program and using Farm Radio’s VOICE standard for self-assessment. Ms. Muunga also receives audience feedback through text messages and call-ins. Whenever possible, Ms. Muunga uses this feedback to inform future programs. Sometimes, this involves adjusting the material in Jinsia na Maendeleo to reflect the audience’s needs and interests.
Jinsia na Maendeleo provides a platform for women to share their stories about overcoming gender-based violence. For example, one episode shared the story of a woman who was stuck in an abusive relationship, but was eventually able to divorce her husband, own her own home, and become the primary caretaker of her children. By sharing this story, Ms. Muunga says she wanted to encourage women listeners to “fight, no matter how many challenges they face.”
She says that, in the long term, she would like Jinsia na Maendeleo to create school clubs dedicated to empowering girls and teaching them about gender and development. Ms. Muunga hopes these girls will learn about the challenges and achievements of women in Dar es Salaam by listening to the program. Then, the girls in these clubs can become ambassadors for Jinsia na Maendeleo and “build their confidence and awareness of women’s issues as they continue to grow.”
Ms. Muunga thanked Farm Radio International for the award: “Thanks for the continued support in building my career since 2013 when I was still young … by building my capacity through various online courses.”
She says that the resources and information in Farm Radio International’s self-guided modules taught her about gender equality and improved her radio programs.
When asked what advice she would give to broadcasters who want to create radio programs for women, Ms. Muunga says that women need to be respected and given the opportunity to share their stories.
She says, “Women should be reached and listened to because they have so many things to share [not only] with other women, but also with society.”
Photo: Julieth Muunga in studio.