Africa’s small-scale farmers, particularly women, produce food for their families and communities, yet they are among the most vulnerable to malnutrition and poverty. Agriculture can be a driver of food security, employment, women’s empowerment and economic development as well as improved nutrition. But many farmers have limited access to good information, technology and services about these topics, and women especially often have even less access to — or influence over — these.
Quality information and communication services can help women and men farmers make changes that improve their lives and livelihoods. In the Scaling Her Voice on Air project, radio was used to share good and gender-responsive agricultural information and amplify the voices of farmers, especially women, so that they could exchange ideas with each other and with other stakeholders in their communities. Women, particularly, were engaged, becoming leaders and fully participating in the food and nutrition security of their families and communities.
In addition, specific interactive radio series addressed issues of gender equality, where we explored topics related to women's rights, decision-making, gender based violence, sharing the workload within the household and more. They aimed to spark dialogues about harmful social norms preventing women from benefiting from important information about agriculture and nutrition.
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Ultimate outcome: Improved gender equality and food security among men and women smallholder farmers living in poverty, especially women and youth, in the targeted regions of Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali and Senegal.*
- The amount of people living in food insecurity decreased from 2,121,400 to 1,614,700 (a decrease of 24%)
- Measured through a women’s empowerment index, the gap between men and women lowered from 25% to 20%
- The empowerment gap between youth and adults lowered from 12% to 0.2%
- Increased use of sustainable, gender-responsive interactive radio platforms to share quality information, communication and knowledge.
- 58 stations offered quality radio programs
- 168 broadcasters trained in high quality interactive radio
- 90% of broadcasters improved the quality of their radio broadcasts when it came to serving rural audiences with good agricultural information, and good gender equality information.
- 352 key stakeholder groups in food security and gender equality contributed to creating effective and collaborative interactive radio platforms
- Increased application of good agricultural and nutritional practices by women and men farmers and youth thanks to interactive radio platforms
- 6,730,000 farmers listened to interactive radio programs (68% of the potential audience in Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso)
- 52% of listeners, or 1,342,814 people, tried new agricultural and nutritional practices discussed during the programs (321,567 women, 682,690 men, 165,784 youth)
- Higher scores on knowledge questions about good agricultural practices increased from 38% for women to 69%, from 44% for men to 66% and from 41% for youth to 66%.
- 61% of listeners improved their knowledge about good agricultural practices. (579,400 women, 1,020,500 men, 481,900 youth)
- Increased application of gender transformative practices by men, women and youth using interactive radio platforms in relation to family food security
- 59% of listeners, or 1,520,000 people, tried new practices related to gender equality, like sharing chores, discussing budgeting, or improving conditions for women. That’s 570,000 women, 970,000 men and 460,000 youth.
- We saw a 30% increase in positive attitudes and perceptions towards gender equality by women, a 25% change in men, and a 27% change in youth
- In Mali, seven partner stations continue to produce and broadcast these programs now that the program is over. In Ghana, 12 of 21 stations continue to air specialized radio programs, continuing the impact of the shows after the program has ended.
*It is important to consider the work of other local and international organizations in reducing these ultimate outcome numbers. Changes in climate and weather also have an impact on food security. We can say with certainty that changes in attitudes, behaviours and knowledge about gender equality and food security were changed because of the project.
🔈 A radio clip from this project
This project is made possible through financial support of the Government of Canada, through Global Affairs Canada.
- Duration: 5 years, 2019-2023
- Budget: $4.9M CAD
- Radio stations: 61
- Languages: Bambara, Dioula, French, Pulaar, Soninké, Twi, Wolof
RTB 2 Bobo
Radio Voix du Verger
Radio Voix des Balé
Radio Voix du Sourou
Bamtaare Dowri FM
Bamtaare Dodel FM
Médina Yéro Foula FM
*a non-exhaustive list
This project was specially designed to achieve gender transformative results. This includes addressing topics such as gender-based violence, gender roles, and women's rights.
This project also features the following gender specific measures:
- Her Voice on Air radio design
- Women's community listening groups
- Women's participation in topic choices through formative research
- Gender-based analysis
Women, gender equality experts and women’s rights organizations were involved at every step at the process from design (where women were consulted on programming themes) to broadcast (where women were invited as guests, experts and to share their thoughts and opinions). Women were trained on the use of ICTs as part of the programming, and broadcasters were trained on how to address gender equality on air and how to promote women’s participation. Indeed in some communities women went from being only 10% of callers to radio shows to 55% of all callers to the programs.
What we learned
- Engaging women from the beginning of the process was key in designing radio programming that was relevant to those communities. Thanks to early consultations, women chose the topics of radio programs and advised on the gender equality challenges and their impact on food security, and ensured that each individual program was locally relevant to the community. As a result, 95% of community listening groups in Mali, Burkina Faso and Senegal listened to the radio programs on a weekly basis.
- Working with local gender-equality focused organizations are key to implementing effective gender equality focused projects. We worked with 68 women’s organizations to advise on programming design and themes, to feature on shows
- Investing in supporting key stakeholder groups in using interactive radio is essential to ensure effective and sustainable collaboration, including in offering local gender-equality focused organizations an opportunity to use radio to amplify their work.
- The gender digital divide is real. In order to ensure women can use ICTs and interact with radio programs, training (even the most basic) is required. 79% of women interviewed are now confident in the use of technology to access and provide feedback to radio stations.
- Demand for these types of programs is high. 98% of our partner stakeholders told us they saw value in the role of interactive radio to improve food security and gender transformative practices and listeners were dedicated to their programs. Challenges come in engaging outside partners to fund programs outside of project funding cycles.
- Creating programs that reach men as well as women is important. To engage and change the attitudes and behaviours of men meant program designs that were creative and entertaining. It also displayed the need to obtain community buy in from the beginning, discussing and engaging community leaders, as well as local men and women in the process.
- Changes in gender equality are difficult to measure. Farm Radio International developed a women’s empowerment index (adapted from IFPRI’s Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index) using 11 indicators (including decision making power, access to land or credit, freedom of expression etc) to determine an overall assessment of gender-equality and empowerment