On air with rural women



Women in Radio

Women participation in local radio is increasing through UNESCO’s “Empowering Local Radio with ICTs” project. It encourages the inclusion of women voices in broadcasts and as correspondents. Moreover, women have the opportunity to receive training in the use of ICTs and to improve their reporting. However, they are also breaching the divide to assume positions in management, hardline broadcasting and as part of the technical team. One important spillover effect is the increasing diversity of women in local radio, which is helping to remove harmful stereotypes in broadcasting.

Esther Mugatare, 59, was one such community member from Rwanda who had the desire to work for the local radio station. When Isangano Community Radio was created in 2011, she expressed her interest in working for the station despite her age and remonstrances from friends and family.

Esther was given the opportunity to receive training through the UNESCO project, which allowed her to increase her capacity in reporting on local issues. Six years later, she continues to work at Radio Isangano as a volunteer reporter where she mainly covers stories related to the region’s agricultural sector.

Beth Wanjiru is another local radio volunteer working with Baliti FM in Kenya. She runs her own beauty salon in Isiolo and contributes to the family farm, but still finds time to pursue her passion for reporting on issues important to the community. Beth covers stories related to farming and youth employment, broadcasting both in Swahili and Borana, and making proficient use of ICTs in her work in the field and the station.

Margaret Sentamu is the Executive Director of the Uganda Media Women’s Association (UMWA), the organization managing Mama FM. She has been particularly involved in working with rural populations, especially women, as well as organizing campaigns to curb teenage pregnancy and promote women’s rights. Mama FM also provides an opportunity for Ugandan women to enter and gain experience in the local media sphere, a field mainly dominated by men. Under Margaret and UNWA’s management, more than 60% of the staff of Mama FM are women, with all managerial positions taken by women.

On the technical side, Neorisha Julius is working as a sound engineering at Radio Atlantis in South Africa. Despite her degree and strong competencies, she faces ongoing disbelief from associates that a woman is capable of performing well in a technical position.

“For them, it’s hard to swallow the fact that I can do technical work just as well, that I can create an advertisement, that I can do recordings, editing and work with technical and sophisticated equipment. You don’t see that every day, but it’s something that I really enjoy and love,” said Neorisha.