Peer-to-peer exchange is one of the most powerful adoption pathways. Farm Radio International uses radio to extend peer-to-peer far beyond village or kinship boundaries. Our participatory radio method has been very successful. But as with so much in sub-Saharan Africa, amplifying the voices of women farmers so other women can learn from them has been a significant challenge.
Our methodology insists that the voices of farmers, men and women, be heard on air. But barriers exist right on the farm, where women have less access to radios and phones. Community listening groups, many composed entirely of women, ensure some female audience. Yet, getting feedback from women on what they have heard is not so easy. Even though cellphones are popular in rural Africa, airtime is often controlled by men. Women who do have access to a phone may be reluctant to call more than once because their neighbours may think they are being too forward.
Through an initiative called “Her Voice on Air,” FRI has developed a novel way to get the voices of women on the air. All that is needed is one phone in the hands of a community listening group — and some technology behind the scenes.
Each participating community listening group has a fixed period of time each week to share their opinions. The group will call a special number and leave a missed call, at no charge. The group will receive a call back a moment later. The recorded voice on the callback invites them to give their thoughts over the phone. Each woman’s voice is automatically recorded in Farm Radio International’s special web-based interactive radio platform, from which broadcasters can easily download the audio file and edit it for use on the next broadcast.
“Her Voice on Air” is funded the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and this unique technique for recording women’s voices is made possible thanks to a collaboration with Voto Mobile, the Ghana-based social enterprise platform. Learn more about Farm Radio International’s work amplifying the voices of women.