In Western Burkina Faso, radio dramas are promoting the rights of women and girls in rural communities and empowering women to become active leaders and decision makers.
Developed by Farm Radio International as part of its Scaling Her Voice project, the weekly series are designed and broadcast in local languages over 12 weeks in the regions of Hauts Bassins and Boucle du Mouhoun. The episodes vary from seven to 10 minutes and they expose common challenges within the community such as secured access to land, gender-based violence, women’s economic dependence and forced marriages. The scenes are modeled on local realities and are intended to open inclusive and productive discussions among community members.
“We experience a lot of violence in our homes and through these broadcasts our husbands hear and understand that they are really harming us.”Catherine Ouedraogo, Farmer
Dramas for safe expression
Catherine Ouedraogo, a farmer from Koho Gnabiro village, said that the drama format helps women to express themselves openly and safely.
“We experience a lot of violence in our homes and through these broadcasts our husbands hear and understand that they are really harming us,” she said. “Many thanks to the initiators of these shows.”
Another episode involving the president of the village development committee of Kabadéni discusses the marginalization of women in the management of crop yields. Local men and women gather in the village square to speak with the community leader and share knowledge on the need to involve women in decision making on the farm.
Twenty-nine year old Oumou Sangaré from Yèrèssoro village is a married mother of two. She said that previously, her husband never consulted her on the planning of agricultural activities and she was not involved in decision-making.
“But today, thanks to the programs we listen to together, these practices have changed and this has helped us a lot to succeed in our agricultural activities,” she said.
Food security & gender equality
The Scaling Her Voice project (‘Voix de Femmes à grande échelle’) is a five-year project funded by Global Affairs Canada that is designed to solve key development issues related to food security and gender equality in four West African countries: Senegal, Mali, Ghana and Burkina Faso.
Interactive radio is used to share good and gender-sensitive agricultural information and amplify the voices of women farmers so that they can exchange ideas with each other and with other stakeholders in their communities. Women in particular are targeted and engaged so that they can be leaders and fully participate in the food and nutrition security of their families, as well as the promotion of the rights of women and girls in their communities.
The radio series are becoming increasingly popular in the target communities and are reaching men and women of all ages. Pierre Tankuy from the Tiomboni village said he listens every Friday at 8pm to what has become his favourite show, ‘ANW KA SENE YIRIWALI SIRA’ (or “Good agricultural practices” in Dioula, the local language).
“We [look forward] to see what Mahadou (the main character in the series) will do again to Batogma (his wife) and his children. We have fun and learn at the same time without getting bored. The show ends without us realizing it.”
By combining entertainment with educational messaging around gender equality, women’s rights and rural livelihoods, radio dramas continue to be an effective way to reach local audiences and prompt much-needed discussions.
The Scaling Her Voice on Air project aims to bring improved interactive radio services to Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, and Senegal, reaching more than 7 million small-scale farmers to improve food security and gender equality. The Government of Canada, through Global Affairs Canada, is supporting the project with a grant of $5 million over the five years of the project.
Photo: Konaté Nagnon Madjélia listens to radio dramas from the Scaling Her Voice on Air project with her family in the Hauts-Bassins region of Burkina Faso.