I interviewed a female participant, Regina Suwie from Radio Progress in Ghana, who brought her baby to a workshop that I was involved in while working as an intern with Farm Radio International. I requested that Ms. Suwie speak about what she enjoyed about the workshop and challenges she faces as a women presenter in radio broadcasting. She thought that the workshop was extremely beneficial with respect to hearing different opinions and learning from each other. The topic of the workshop – Gender and Agricultural Programming – fuelled heavy discussions on potential challenges women face throughout the agricultural sector, especially in relation to accessing radio broadcasts. The fact that Ms. Suwie was obligated to bring her baby along to the workshop and care for her while actively participating was a challenge in and of itself; however, she does not see it as an obstacle. She is a determined women and she will not let having a baby stand in the way of a career she wishes to pursue. She enjoys working in radio so she will balance a family with what she wants to pursue professionally. Click below to see video:
The workshop entitled Gender and Agricultural Radio Programming concerned gender sensitivity and gender mainstreaming in farm and agricultural radio. Various radio stations from across Ghana were in attendance to participate in an interactive learning environment to discuss gender issues in current radio programming. Out of twenty radio station representatives – mostly presenters – only four were women. It is thus particularly challenging for the majority of men to adequately provide insight into what specific changes are necessary for radio programming to incorporate and consider women in the broadcasts. Prior to beginning the workshop, expectations were discussed.
What would the two-day workshop amount to? A few examples from a lengthy list are improving practices and equal opportunity; cater certain programming to the interest of women; establish networks; get resources to run women-related agric shows; introduce new technologies to farmers; and gain access to information on gender issues.
There was an initial discussion on what exactly gender means and to highlight the respective gender roles defining the issue of gender sensitivity in the agric sector. One of the group activities was expanding on a certain topic concerning gender differences. For example, my group was assigned the discussion question:
How do we address bridging the gap between knowledge and skills of men and women?
This exercise further solidified the roles laid out for both genders and allowed for the recognition of changing times. Gender roles are dynamic; what was traditionally a man’s job can now also be explored by a woman. Radio must then include information to enhance women’s as well as men’s skills and knowledge in certain areas of agricultural development.
There was heated debate over what would attract more women listeners and help break down the barrier of near exclusion from agric radio broadcasting. There is a need to develop a balance, addressing the disadvantage toward women and unequal access favouring men. Some individuals suggested that the mere fact of having women presenters would attract more women to tune into the radio shows; others argued that promotion of having women resource persons would entice more female listeners than simply having a woman presenter because it is dependent upon the content not the gender of the presenter. The issue in collecting numbers that adequately reflect the listener demographic is the limited access women have to a radio; if they do have access to a radio, will they listen to certain programming directed at women in agriculture? The challenge lies in creating awareness for the importance of women to own and have access to a radio so as to benefit from women-related agricultural programming.
Amanda Joyce – Intern with Farm Radio International – AFRRI