Community radio broadcasts in Zanzibar are bringing awareness to gender-based violence and proper childcare practices as part of their localized focus. Targeted radio programs have contributed to significant improvement in the communal perception of violence against women, as well as the establishment of local infrastructure to resolve reported incidents. Informational broadcasts are additionally educating young women and mothers on important pregnancy issues and early infant care.
Two community radio stations broadcasting in Zanzibar, Tumbatu FM and Mtengani FM, are promoting the empowerment of women through targeted radio programs. The two stations provide media coverage to a number of small communities, including Tumbatu, Micheweni and Makunduchi, where local issues are being investigated and properly addressed.
Addressing gender-based violence
Gender-based violence in Zanzibar poses a substantial obstacle to the empowerment of women and the overall development of the islands. As part of UNESCO’s “Empowering local radio with ICTs” project, funded by Sweden, radio stations are raising awareness for major issues facing local women and inciting action to resolve these oppressing impediments to development.
Tumbatu FM has brought attention to the issue, informing local communities on the appropriate response to gender-based violence, especially those incidents occurring within the household. The awareness created from the programs has effectively confronted domestic violence in the region, resulting in the implementation of a gender desk at local police stations. Communities have also reacted to broadcasts with residents now reporting cases of domestic violence to police or local authorities instead of resolving these issues at the family level.
Promoting good health practices in the community
Afya na Tiba, a program focusing on health-related issues at Mtegani FM, is tackling other issues affecting local women. Broadcasts regarding pregnancy and infant care are informing women on proper childbearing and childcare practices. Proper lifestyle and behaviour while pregnant, scheduling regular consultations at local health clinics, and the nutrition of breast milk were among the topics discussed during programs.
“I now understand the importance in communicating with our babies and interacting with them,” said Asha Haji Juma, a listener from Tumbatu. “We didn’t know about these things before.”
Community radio has been instrumental in removing superstition and promoting healthy childcare practices. Juma also commended the stations for their efforts in raising awareness for the necessity of infant vaccinations to reduce the prevalence of common diseases in the area.
Early pregnancy amongst young women has been an important issue for communities in Zanzibar, and radio broadcasts from local stations are actively addressing the problem. The diffusion of information on the negative health and societal effects of early pregnancy has successfully created awareness within local communities.
In other areas of local concern, Tumbatu radio stations diffused health information during a recent cholera outbreak. Their preventative broadcasts have been strongly credited by listeners with controlling the outbreak and saving the lives of potential victims.
“We are happy to have community radio in Makunduchi,” said Omar Naim Suleiman. “We receive useful information on-time that covers a diverse range of subjects that concern us.”