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Tackling gender inequities in marriage on the radio

The Liz Hughes award recognizes radio stations and producers who are dedicated to serving women listeners. Radio programs from these stations address and advance gender equality. They may share the experiences and opinions of women, or address issues of concern to women. Farm Radio International developed this award in memory of board member, Liz Hughes.

We received many applications for the Liz Hughes Award, but, in this Spotlight, we want to highlight two honourable mentions: Radio West from Uganda and Radio Communautaire Tayna, from DRC, both of whom broadcast stimulating radio programs that address gender issues.

“Akazindaaro K’omuriisa” on Radio West, Uganda

Radio West is a radio station in Mbarara City, Uganda. Its program, Akazindaaro K’omuriisa, focuses on farmers throughout western Uganda, including women, men, persons with disabilities, and the rich and poor. The program aims to serve the audience by providing advice from agricultural experts and discussing trends in the farming environment.

The program addresses gender equality by calling on women and men to participate in agricultural activities and financial ventures.

It also tries to challenge gender roles outside of the traditional marital dependency that some women experience. For example, in one community in western Uganda’s Rubirizi district, men still think that the role of women in to have sex and reproduce. This radio programs actively addresses these views, frequently relying on women leaders as guests or even hosts for the episode. And the broadcasters are seeing change. The producers report that 35% of women now have a say in family planning and others are free to participate in income-generating ventures.

At the same time, in the Rubirizi district, women are now independently running their vegetable gardens and other small-scale agriculture projects after many years of feeling that men are responsible for everything in the family. The program has generated shifts in perception that have advanced gender equality in the region.

By allowing women to appear on the show and speak about the issues that affect them, the program has contributed to changes in women’s decision-making, agency, accountability, and financial growth. But it’s not just women. Men also contribute to the conversation as producers, presenters, and guests on the program.

“Femme et Société” on Radio Communautaire Tayna, DRC

Radio Communautaire Tayna broadcasts from Goma city in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The station broadcasts an interactive program that campaigns for the rights of female children, with the goal of fighting gender-based sexual violence.

Gender-based violence includes economic violence, and a recent episode of the program “Femme et Société” (Women and Society) addressed the excessive value of marriage dowries. The program aimed to reach traditional and customary leaders, as well as men and women who may be planning marriages.

By allowing listeners to ask questions to the guest speakers, who are usually women with expertise in gender and masculinity, the program actively tackles the subject of marriage and post-marriage violence, including issues that arise from the dowry that is part of the marriage process.

The program producers emphasize the importance of involving women in planning the program, ensuring that women present programs at the radio station, and including a wide range of female voices and perspectives on the “Femme et Société” show, as well as other programs. In order to facilitate this kind of inclusion, Radio Communautaire Tayna collects listeners’ opinions through “streeters” or “vox pops,” as well as messages received via SMS.

The topic of the next episode is published on the station’s Facebook page, where people can make comments. Unfortunately, due to a lack of resources, the radio station is not able to call listeners and include their voices in the program. However, to overcome this, Radio Communautaire Tayna distributes suggestion cards three days before the broadcast, which are then read live in the studio.