When you tune into Radio Communautaire Salama in Butembo, DRC, on Saturday afternoons, you hear broadcasters tackle the serious issue of sexual and gender-based violence. It’s an issue that is important to listeners but, according to the production team, often overlooked. Station manager Jeremie Kyaswekera says, “Our programs pass the mic to those the press forgets.”
The program is called Tupiganishe Ujeuri Dhidi Ya Wanawake, which means “Fighting violence against women.” It airs each Saturday from 8:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. and, as Jeremie says, is “dedicated to female expression and of the promotion of women’s rights.”
Jeremie explains that an important part of this work is addressing false stereotypes about women, which are “often at the root of … violence against women.” To counter these stereotypes, the program talks about the traditional roles of men and women and how they are changing.
The program also discusses the different forms of violence, their causes, their consequences, and possible prevention strategies. Broadcasters encourage local authorities to respect women’s rights and promote legal justice for survivors of violence. They also direct listeners to support organizations and regularly share a toll-free number that listeners can call to report violence.
Farm Radio International chose Tupiganishe Ujeuri Dhidi Ya Wanawake as the 2021 Grand Prize winner of the Liz Hughes Award for Her Farm Radio. This award recognizes radio programs that address gender equality and create opportunities to share the voices of rural women.
Tupiganishe Ujeuri Dhidi Ya Wanawake uses vox pops (short interviews of the public) to share women and men’s concerns, experiences, and understanding of sexual and gender-based violence. These community contributions help Radio Communautaire Salama select the topic of each episode and find the right experts to feature as guests.
Experts include gender specialists, teachers, and leaders of women’s organizations, who act as important sources of information on the program. Their voices are featured live on air answering listeners’ questions and discussing the program’s topic for the week.
Radio Communautaire Salama also consults experts and women’s organizations to plan the program, including the local female journalists’ collective, the Association of Female Lawyers (FJDJ), and the Association for the Defense of Women’s Rights (ADDF).
Most importantly, the station is seeing change in the community as a result of the program. There has been an increase in the number of victims and others visiting the offices of women’s organizations to discuss gender-based violence. The radio program also receives comments and questions from listeners, particularly on the toll-free number it shares.
The show features local women, particularly survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, sharing their stories. Jeremie explains, “As our program is dedicated exclusively to the fight against violence against women, we give women and girls a [chance] to make their voices heard.”
Women are the central figures in this program, but men have a role to play too.
“Our programs are almost 80% dedicated towards women and of that 80%, 20% is dedicated to content exclusively for rural women and women farmers. But … men also have access to the same content and are even a source of information, and they share their experiences,” says Jeremie.
Using vox pops and interviews, Radio Communautaire Salama encourages men to interact on the program as a way of showing support for women and showcasing positive masculinity. This gives male listeners a chance to engage with the program and improve their knowledge of sexual and gender-based violence.
Jeremie says it’s sometimes difficult to develop a program on such a sensitive subject. He adds that it is often challenging to access verified information on sexual and gender-based violence. Sharing this information in a local language is also a challenge.
But the results are already clear. Since the beginning of the program, Jeremie notes that local women’s organizations such as ADDF and FJDJ report that their services are being used more frequently by women reporting violence.
“We were proud when our magazine show … drew the attention of the jury,” says Jeremie.
With this prize, the staff at Radio Communautaire Salama find their work well-appreciated and are even more committed to working hard in order to demand more equality and a world where women farmers and rural women are respected, can express themselves, and are independent and self-reliant.
Radio Communautaire Salama was the grand prize winner of the 2021 Liz Hughes Award for Her Farm Radio. The She Show from Ahomka FM, Ghana, and the Agriculture et Développement Show from Radio Rurale Locale de Banikoara, Benin, were awarded runner-up prizes. Two programs were also awarded honourable mentions.
This story was originally published on Barza Wire, Farm Radio International’s news wire for African farm broadcasters.