Farm Radio International has long been committed to including women in every aspect of our work: as broadcasters, farmers and agricultural extension workers.
In July 2013 we launched Her Farm Radio, an initiative to ensure radio serves the needs of all farmers, women and men.
Ten projects have come under the Her Farm Radio banner, each focusing on emphasizing women and women’s voices. These projects have focused on interventions with specific benefits for women, shared female voices on each show and established women-only listening groups, among other things.
Since Her Farm Radio was launched, more than 160,000 women have tried an improved agricultural practice designed with women in mind, a result from our demand-driven participatory radio campaign project. Our CHANGE project in Northern Ghana saw more than 185,000 women learn about climate change and its effects on their farming businesses. More than 2 million women have been impacted by Her Farm Radio.
These results encouraged FRI to further explore the role gender plays in our work and in the lives of those who interact with FRI. Over several months, our staff gathered stories from broadcasters, farmers, extension officers, project evaluations and their own life experiences. These stories helped to form our new gender policy.
Our country offices reported that current farm radio programs rarely discuss or represent the variety of roles women play in agricultural production and marketing. Women often lead household production, while men manage cash crops, but this is not always the case, as these roles are dynamic and transforming. Furthermore, women often lead community, household and income activities — bearing a triple burden of responsibility with little leisure time to pursue skills and learning activities. Yet the division of labour between men and women within and outside the household is a topic not often discussed.
When broadcasters are in the field, women are often interviewed less frequently than men for radio spots because they are less available, busy with farming, childcare or household duties. Women may also be reluctant to be interviewed or to call in to radio shows because they do not have equal access to the radio or they do not feel confident speaking out. Women also consistently have less access to radios and mobile phones.
Women are also underrepresented at the radio station. Most of our country offices reported that radio station partners employ more men than women, with women more likely to be in supporting roles rather than involved in production, design and broadcasting.
Our gender strategy aims to address these very issues. We equally value the contribution of women and men farmers to their families, to agriculture and rural life, and to their societies. We equally value the contribution of men and women broadcasters to rural communities and to broadcasting. In all of our activities we will support both women and men in the pursuit of the equal enjoyment of rights, responsibilities, opportunities, resources and rewards, and we will give equal weight to the perceptions, interests, needs and priorities of both women and men.
Our policy aims to:
— respond to the information needs of women farmers and men farmers, including equal representation and respect in agricultural production and rural development.
— develop the capacity of rural radio stations and broadcasters to facilitate dialogues about gender equality; produce programs responding to the needs of women and men; give voices to women and men through information communication technologies (ICTs) and on-air discussions.
— encourage a positive working environment at radio stations that support women.
— facilitate access to radio listening and participation by women farmers.
— create a working environment at our offices to promote women and gender equality.