Why more female voices are needed on the air

Farm Radio International works with broadcasters across Africa, and has seen the challenges female broadcasters face in the workplace and in the field. Three strong female broadcasters shared their experiences with us: Rotlinde Achimpota is an editor with Mambo Jambo FM in Tanzania, Victoria Dansoa Abankwa, is a host with Radio Central in Ghana, and Andréa Bambara, formerly a broadcaster in Burkina Faso, is currently a project officer with FRI.
 
Rotlinde and Andréa have faced many challenges in their broadcast careers, the first of which was establishing themselves as valuable members of the broadcast team. At many radio stations men outnumber women and often women are assigned to supportive and administrative roles, rather than being involved in broadcasting, editing or production.
 

“Collaboration is sometimes difficult in radio stations because some men don’t accept you. If you want to produce programs other than cooking and family shows, they get in your way and discourage you with their remarks,” said Andréa.

Rotlinde has had a similar experience, acknowledging that women are often not promoted, or may not be given the same job responsibilities as male counterparts.
 
Female broadcasters also face challenges in the field. “Sometimes, in the field men ask you to cook food after news-gathering,” said Andréa.
 
Female farmers
 
Yet these broadcasters know that women are just as skilled as men when it comes to interviewing agricultural experts, talking to farmers and sharing information with their listeners.
 
“Women I know are always determined and action-oriented and results-oriented,” said Victoria. She added that women are skilled communicators and can empathize with the female farmers who balance house work, child care and farm work.
 
Andréa agreed: “Women have advantages: they are mothers, spouses, and daughters. On this behalf they can address all issues, including sensitive ones, with men without being ashamed, as well as with women who are not shy.”
 
Female farmers
 
Featuring women’s voices alongside men’s on air is invaluable to listeners. Female broadcasters are uniquely positioned to capture stories of female farmers, who make up 43 per cent of the farming workforce in Africa.
 
This is why Victoria encourages young women to become broadcasters, and offered simple advice to those interested in joining her on the air.
 

“For one to be a very good broadcaster you should be knowledgeable yourself and be determined to go the extra mile from whatever knowledge you have. You should always be in a position to seek more information,” she said. “Listen to the people to send the information to.”

It is not an easy path for female broadcasters, but Rotlinde, Victoria and Andréa believe it is worth it as they support their listeners with valuable information and have the opportunity to meet incredible men and women farmers.
 
Rotlinde only wishes men would recognize the talents of female broadcasters. “I advise Tanzanian men be educated about equal rights for all, particularly in information and broadcasting and ask the government to ensure women broadcasters are done right by and given a salary equal to men and according to their ability to work,” Rotlinde said.
 
FRI is committed to supporting and promoting female broadcasters alongside men, as well as promoting the voices of female and male farmers in all of our projects.

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