The young broadcasters starting conversations about sexual and reproductive health in Mali

| August 18, 2023

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Ms. Dolo has been learning on the job. The 26-year-old’s position as a host at Radio Toguna is her first experience in radio. Radio Toguna broadcasts from Bandiagara, a small town in central Mali’s Mopti Region. Although Ms. Dolo has been with the station for only two years, she is already broadcasting on sensitive topics such as sexually transmitted infections and gender-based violence.

The current series of her show is called Keneya Bôlôn (Entryway to Health). It’s part of Farm Radio International’s “Hérè – Women’s Well-being in Mali” project, which aims to improve sexual and reproductive health in women of child-bearing age and strengthen the prevention of and response to gender-based violence in four regions in Mali. The project is funded by Global Affairs Canada and implemented by a consortium led by MSI Reproductive Choices, and including Farm Radio International and Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF).

The project has been successful in this regard: of the 36 broadcasters participating in the project, 26 are youth. For the Hérè project, as with many of its projects, Farm Radio uses the definition of youth from the African Youth Charter: ages 15 to 35.

Ms. Dolo is one of several young broadcasters leading youth programs in Mali. Radio Toguna selected her to participate in this project because of her commitment, dynamism, and know-how. When selecting radio stations for a project, Farm Radio establishes criteria based on the project’s needs and theme. Since the target audience for the Hérè project is teenagers and young people, it was important to ensure that radio teams reflected that audience.

Most of the young people working on the Hérè project are students, interns, or volunteers who are passionate about radio. While participating in the project, they receive training in radio production and other journalism techniques. They are also paid for their work. Through training and practical experience in broadcasting early in their careers, young people can develop their broadcasting and media skills, increase their confidence, and strengthen their employability. Ms. Dolo says that she found the training from Farm Radio useful.

Farm Radio International’s radio craft officer in Mali, Maïmouna N’Gnadiè Fane, works directly with broadcasters and trains them. She says, “I think it’s a matter of passion to be a broadcaster.” 

The benefits are not only for individual young broadcasters: youth-oriented programming brings youth issues into the spotlight. Involving young people with radio stations also creates additional content for the station and can attract advertisers who cater to young people. Youth listen to the radio, but they often access it from their phone. Research by the South African Broadcasting Research Council found that young people were 32% more likely to listen to the radio with their mobile phone. Having young broadcasters can break taboos, because young people are more comfortable discussing topics like sexuality with their peers than with adults. Young broadcasters understand their audience and know how to address sensitive topics with the right tone and language.

Ms. Dolo says: “The benefits of being a young broadcaster include participating in the development of my community, continuous training through thematic episodes, and raising awareness among the populations of the fight against harmful practices.”

This story is adapted from an article written by Farm Radio International called “The young broadcasters starting conversations about sexual and reproductive health in Mali” To read the full story, go to: