Nigerian women are using radio to revolutionise their struggle for gender justice in their country.
Media engagement primarily through radio is playing a more strategic role in increasing the visibility of women and their issues. Radio has become one of the most highly employed platforms for organising engagements by women’s groups in advancing women’s rights in
Nigeria. It offers women’s groups multiple opportunities. Radio allows women to:
• Set their agenda;
• Give women’s groups the opportunity to mobilise for positive behavior modification and adoption towards gender equality, and, most importantly;
• Give voice to women’s groups and their allies to demand the change they want to see in Nigeria. Radio is now a huge platform for social change. It is also a good road towards education and illumination, and for forming and sustaining opinions, and for entertainment.
Consider that women’s groups have a long history of organising in Nigeria, with inspiring herstories, that date back to the Aba women’s protest in 1929; Egba women’s protest of 1947, led by Funmilayo Ransome Kuti; and the works of Margaret Ekpo in the then Eastern Region in the independence movement; and Gambo Sawaba in the then Northern Region, with women in the 19 Northern States gaining suffrage only in 1979.
While the visibility of early women’s activism cannot be credited to media in the real sense, however, these herstories are preserved through documentation and amplified through traditional/legacy media – television, newspapers, oral histories and, of course, radio.
By understanding the power of media, and especially radio, the new generation of feminists and women’s rights groups are boosting their work. They understand that radio is a powerful tool to amplify messages and issues (that may contribute to behavior change, and to shifting power for women and girls). The 21st century feminist recognises that radio, and other new media, are revolutionary tools towards change thatwomen desire and want sustained.
In recognising the power of radio, women’s groups are seizing the opportunity that radio offers for their work. Whether for challenging oppression and injustice, demanding socio-cultural transformation or for holding policy makers and government accountable, radio is the
“100% of the 28 women’s rights groups thatActionAid Nigeria subgrants under the Women’s
Voice and Leadership Nigeria Project (WVL) whoimplement programmes at state and national
levels, uses radio programmes for strategicengagements especially during key moments
such as International Women’s Day, Day of theAfrican Child and during the global 16 Days of
Activism to end gender-based violence”.
(Niri Goyit, WVL Project Coordinator, North).
Nigerian radio programming has also recognised the need for focusing the lens a little more intentionally – so that contemporary topics such as feminism, intersectionality, dismantling of patriarchy and shifting power for women are highlighted. This also means gender justice
discussions are less likely to be shied away from by many radio stations in Nigeria.
For instance, the WFM 91.7 MHZ, popularly called Women Radio, designs their programming through a women’s rights lens. It commenced operations in Nigeria on 16 November, 2015 and is the first gender-focused radio station slanted towards women and their issues.
The growth of community radio stations should also not be ignored. Community radio offers even more advantages for communicating empowerment programmes to a large group of women. Community radio is a remarkable educational and empowering platform for
women in the community and grassroots to converse, engage, and voice their opinions as they choose to. These programmes have been designed to make women critical thinkers as well as creating large scale change at community level. Agriculture programmes and livelihood options are disseminated in simplified formats, using local languages to reach communities and especially women. These formats assure
inclusivity and diversity.
What all this points to is that with the advancement in technology, and especially the new media, radio remains important and vital. Radio stations have incorporated this new media as part of their programming. On air personalities are using WhatsApp messages to communicate with audiences – sending and reading chats on air. In this way they are engaging young populations – including women – on core issues of gender justice and empowerment. The best part is that evenmwith the new technology, radio remains an option for most people without access to the internet.
As such, the importance and use of radio cannot be ruled out. Radio programming has to continue being designed so that it remains interactive, fun, and entertaining as this draws more audiences, which in turn deepens the impact.
1 ActionAid Nigeria, 2019.
Content Source: https://ispeak.africa/