About the exhibition

Watch Annika Markovic, the Swedish Ambassador to UNESCO and the OECD, and Mirta Lourenço, UNESCO Chief of Section for Media Development and Society, as they discuss the importance of this exhibition below.

Women are twice as likely as men to be illiterate, and rural women are especially at risk. Globally, only 39% of rural girls attend secondary school, and they often suffer from lower levels of civic integration and access to information, as well as exclusion from decision-making circles. These conditions can create a cycle that compromises their ability to participate in public life and raise their concerns in democratic debate. The inclusion of women's voices and gender-related issues in the media has the power to promote women’s empowerment by breaking the circle of inequality and dependence. Displayed at International Women’s Day 2018 in Paris and at the European Development Days in Brussels, UNESCO’s "On Air with Rural Women" is an exhibition built around radio broadcasts gathered from local stations in 10 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Women's voices

Catherine Apalat,
programme manager at Mama FM in Uganda, is talking about the mission of the radio station, the variety in their programming and the resulting changes she has witnessed in the community.

Busisiwe Mtabane,
joined by Danielle Buise, speaks about her experience working as a radio host for Bush FM, a historical and pioneering community radio station in South Africa, located in Cape Town.

Neorisha Julius
is working as a production officer and sound engineer for Radio Atlantis in South Africa. She speaks about the sexism she faces at work everyday and how people have trouble understanding that a woman can perform as well as a man in a technical position.

Theresia Makungu
ounded Pambazuko FM, a community radio station in a rural region of Tanzania. After working as a midwife for many years, Theresia wanted to do something to encourage the fellow women of her community to be more creative and start their own businesses.

Working in local 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.

Find out more


Local radio stations supported by UNESCO are challenging gender norms in Africa and inspiring rural women to participate in public debate and promote their own autonomy.

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The voice of women: Local radio and gender equality in Burundi

Rural women discuss how their lives have been transformed by local radio and their programs focused on gender.

watch the movie

Flip through the Empowering Local Radio SoundCloud account to listen to more broadcasts.

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Exhibition photo gallery

See the exhibition at its opening in Paris for International Women’s Day 2018 and the European Development Days 2018 in Brussels.

Browse the gallery

Sound Map