Radio Munyu promotes female empowerment by taking on taboos

| April 13, 2020

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A group of broadcasters at Radio Munyu, in the Banfora region of Burkina Faso, have a knack for taking on taboos. From land appropriation to family planning, taboos limit the ways that women can participate at home, in the workplace, and beyond—yet they are rarely discussed in public.

Using their program Femmes d’Honneur (Women of Honour), Radio Munyu shines a light on exemplary women in the region who help to address these often-unspoken issues. The women featured on the show are role models who inspire other women to speak out on the taboos that affect their lives.

The goal of the program is to feature the stories and opinions of women on sensitive, taboo topics and promote female empowerment in the face of gender-based challenges. For example, in an episode on land appropriation, Radio Munyu hosted the president of Munyu Sabari Kagni, an association of more than 100 women. The president spoke about the association’s work in agriculture and education. The episode highlighted the land rights of women, questions of land development, as well as avenues of action for women who have been forced off their land.

The weekly program is put together by two men, Wilfred Cedric Mabio  and technician Cyrille Tou. But many women at the station occupy leadership positions, including program manager Marie Yvonne Zerbo and station director Olivia Some Hema.

The program planning process begins each Monday by selecting topics and interviewees based on listener input and current news. The content is written and refined during the week until the episode is broadcast on Friday at 8:15 p.m.

The team works closely with the community, holding regular meetings and creating opportunities for listeners to suggest topics or female role models to showcase. Listeners also call in to the program to share their opinions and experiences, and send voice recordings online. These voice clips are aired on the program.

Sensitive topics such as family planning were at first unpopular with listeners, and Radio Munyu received a lot of criticism. Despite this challenge, Radio Munyu says that women were willing and excited to express themselves. As the program continued, listeners became more open to these kinds of subjects. More recent feedback shows that the program has convinced even skeptics of the importance of family planning.

As a result of the program, Radio Munyu has seen an increased desire among parents in surrounding villages to educate their daughters. Hearing women debate with men on the radio has made parents feel hopeful and proud of the abilities of the women in their families.

Radio Munyu’s approach also includes asking for male input on gender issues. The resulting discussions and debates, though sometimes difficult, help to highlight the important role of women in society and development from a male perspective.

Radio Munyu was a runner-up for the Liz Hughes Award for Her Farm Radio in 2020. Read more profiles of the runners-up and winner in the Spotlight section.