Elisabeth Koudjoukalo Hilim is a host and presenter at Radio Évangile Albarka, a religious station in central Togo. Mrs. Hilim is a lively, energetic, and confident young woman and one member of the production team for a radio program called Égalité des genres et équilibre social (Gender equality and social balance). The program is the 2023 winner of the Liz Hughes Award for Her Farm Radio.
This 45-minute program is broadcast every Friday from 8:00 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. to help improve the conditions and position of rural women by changing negative norms and beliefs about gender. Radio Évangile Albarka broadcasts on 106.7 FM from Sokodé, a town 350 km from the Togolese capital, Lomé. The station’s challenge is to give voice to women in an environment that carries the weight of traditional gender norms.
During Farm Radio International’s event celebrating World Radio Day, Mrs. Hilim expressed her joy at receiving the award and talked about the reasons the station aired the award-winning program.
When asked where the idea for such a program came from, she replied: “Nowadays, women are marginalized. Society expects that women adhere to certain norms and beliefs. Our program is based on rural women. Women have a lot of knowledge, but they are afraid of men.” She says that Gender equality and social balance uses the power of radio to find solutions.
To illustrate this, Mrs. Hilim recounted a story about the president of a women’s association in the city of Sokodé. She said: “During field interviews, I was in a village and I met a lady who is considered the leader of a village group. When I was talking to her, she was very articulate. And I said to her, ‘Madam, I would like to invite you to the studio during the next program to sensitize other women and share the difficulties that rural women are experiencing.’ Right away, she said ‘no.’”
But Mrs. Hilim didn’t stop with that refusal. As a broadcaster who wants to give women a voice, she convinced her to participate in the program. According to Mrs. Hilim, today, this woman is a resource person who is highly appreciated by the audience for the quality of her work.
Gender equality and social balance promotes a better understanding of the concept of gender by helping listeners recognize that the social roles assigned to men and women are socially determined and have no link with biological characteristics. The program also highlights women’s contribution to agricultural production and food security. This is especially important in Togo, where more than 60% of the population works in the agricultural sector and women account for the majority of those who work in production, processing, and marketing.
Mrs. Hilim says that going to the field to report on women’s realities gives them the opportunity to express themselves and share the challenges they face as women farmers. Women listeners then have an opportunity to listen to both men and women on the air talking about gender equality, which helps them learn how to defend their rights in a society dominated by men. The program also provides information that shows how gender equality is beneficial to both men and women, and how it promotes social cohesion.
As a winner of the 2023 Liz Hughes Award for Her Farm Radio, Mrs. Hilim and her production team hope to continue to raise the voices of women for all the community to hear.
Photo: Left to right, BOUKPETI Somiabal, Elisabeth Koudjoukalo Hilim, and SOKO Daja. Photo courtesy of Radio Évangile Albarka.