admin | October 13, 2023
This feature was originally published in 2020. We hope this inspires you to apply for the FRI Awards. Find the application forms in the Opportunity section or on farmradio.fm
When oil deposits were found in western Uganda in 2006, interest in oil exploitation put local communities at risk. Many, particularly women and children, face displacement and everyone relies on the land for their livelihood.
Despite the challenges faced by women, their voices remained mute. Aware that the stories of women went untold and underreported, the staff at the National Association of Professional Environmentalists set out to change that. Unlike the commercial radio station in the Bunyoro sub-region that focuses on attracting big audiences and maximizing profits, the local NGO created a program to amplify the voices of rural women: the Nyinabwenge women’s program.
Through the Nyinabwenge women’s program, the radio station set out to ensure that women are heard, to engage them in policy-making and protection of property rights, to improve food security, and to address gender gaps.
The Nyinabwenge program runs every Saturday evening for two hours, a time that is convenient for rural women, who are often busy during the day. The program is aired in local languages, with Precious Naturinda as the main host and field reporter, Sara Kyeyune as a co-host, Julius Kyamanywa as the program director, and Allan Kalangi as the overall radio manager.
The broadcasters address issues that are important to rural women in their area, including farming, environmental conservation, food security, domestic violence, health, and social issues. The radio program has helped women gain confidence by recording their voices and inviting them onto the show. The women see the program as a safe space to talk about issues without fear, and as a place where they can hold their leaders accountable.
“This radio has changed the lives of many women,” says Norah Bahongye, a member of the Kigaaga listener club in Kabaale village, Hoima district. She says she is happy to listen to her favourite women’s program on Saturday evenings, when she has retired from the day’s duties.
“I did not know that me as bahongye, a rural peasant farmer, can be on the radio. I thank the radio management for aiming at amplifying [the voices of] women. I have indigenous knowledge on farming, like best seed selection and pest control, which I have shared on radio, and people even come looking for me to learn.”
While the Nyinabwenge program amplifies the voices of women, men are also featured on the program. The men talk about gender equality and encourage their fellow men to take a different view of women and their contributions to farming, family, and community. The program has hosted men who share their condemnation of men who deny women ownership. It has also hosted parents who have bequeathed property to their daughters, and men who condemn other men who sell their wives’ harvests. The program has also talked with men about how they can share women’s unpaid work, including cooking, cleaning, and collecting water or firewood.