Lusaka, 13 February 2014: As the world celebrates World Radio Day today on 13 February 2014, Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) would like to encourage Southern African governments, civil society, cooperating partners, the media and other development actors to maximise the use of radio as a vehicle of transmitting development to the marginalised and disadvantaged, especially the rural poor, women and children.
Our partner, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) gazetted 13 February of each year as World Radio Day, a day to celebrate radio as a medium; to improve international cooperation between broadcasters; and to encourage major networks and community radio alike to promote access to information, freedom of expression and gender equality over the airwaves.
This year, World Radio Day is being commemorated under the theme ‘Gender Equality and Women Empowerment in Radio’. This theme is of great significance for us as PSAf, because gender is one of our cross cutting strategic issues, mainstreamed into all PSAf programmes and activities.
As a communication for development organisation that seeks to ensure that information is effectively used to foster development by empowering communities to shape their own development agenda, PSAf believes that radio can be an effective tool for overcoming poverty and its offshoots of disease and ignorance that is currently the order of the day for millions of citizens in the region.
PSAf views radio as a powerful medium for promoting gender equality and a platform divergent views of many matters of local and national interest to be tabled, debated and informed decisions made.
For the majority of the rural populace in Southern Africa, radio remains the medium of choice. Yet this important platform is under-funded and operates on a shoe –string budget that makes it fail to be an effective platform for vital information and news on development and poverty reduction. Over the past decade, PSAf has been supporting the development of the radio sector in Southern Africa, building the capacity of the media to provide relevant community programming, news and information as well as technical and financial support to community radio stations and state broadcasters. PSAf has also introduce radio listening clubs a community monitoring and feedback methodology that informs the local radios on what programmes and news to run.
PSAf believes that promoting the participation of women in radio can help address a number of issues related to gender inequality in the region.
PSAf encourages policy makers and media owners to to develop gender-related policies and strategies for radio and to help eliminate stereotypes and the negative portrayal of women and girls.
Media owners also need to promote the safety and protection of women radio journalists ensuring that the newsroom environment they work in is conducive for a female journalists meeting their feminine and maternal needs.
PSAf also shared UNESCO’s commitment in building the capacity of youths to run youth radio productions, with a focus on young women as producers, hosts, reporters. All these commitments can be achieved with collective commitment of different stakeholders.
It is disheartening to note that we are celebrating World Radio Day at a time when some countries in the region like Zimbabwe still do not have a functional community radio sector. It is also disheartening that there is still limited participation of women in radio programming, either as producers or sources or content.
In December 2013, PSAf was one of the key partners in the Global Forum on Media and Gender which was organised by UNESCO in Bangkok, Thailand. The GFMG made a number of far reaching resolutions which we believe when implemented and embraced by different stakeholders, the empowerment of women in and through the media will improve.
Issued by Lilian Kiefer, Executive Director, Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf). For feedback or to request for more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.