Duond Mikayi team encourages women to “just start now”
“Chak achaka” means “just start now.”
“Chak achaka” is a segment on Radio Mikayi’s Duond Mikayi program, a show dedicated to women’s empowerment and gender equality. The team that put together this program was a runner-up for Farm Radio International’s 2023 Liz Hughes Award for Her Farm Radio.
Cynthia Ouma is the host of the program. As part of the segment, she says, “I encourage my listeners to just start, however little it is.”
Because of this advice, she says, listeners have told her they have started everything from planting kitchen gardens to their own small businesses.
It’s that philosophy, just start now, that encourages the team behind Duond Mikayi to do all of their work on the program that aims to empower the women in Siaya, a town in western Kenya near the Ugandan border.
And it’s because of their efforts that the team, which consists of Cynthia, her editor Mercelyne Ogweno and the station manager Nicholas Midiwo, was awarded runner-up for the Liz Hughes Award for Her Farm Radio.
The program is broadcast from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Friday. Each day’s episode addresses a different theme. On Mondays, the theme is always women’s empowerment. The radio team looks at ways to equip and support women to make decisions about the different issues they face socially, economically, politically and psychologically.
On Tuesdays, the team talks about career advice: how women can start and manage businesses, how they can plan for work-related issues, and what tips they can use to advance their career and advocate for their work.
On Wednesdays, the program discusses health. Thursdays, it talks about the environment, and, on Fridays, the team discusses culture and lifestyle, exploring the ways modern life has changed knowledge, beliefs and behaviours.
While taking on topics that run from leadership and mental health to fashion and culture, the episodes also seek to address the challenges faced by widows and women with disabilities. And a recent episode interviewed a parliamentarian about the issues she and other women faced getting elected.
Cynthia seeks to ensure that women on her programs are given the respect that they deserve.
To do this, she showcases women in a variety of roles. She highlights women succeeding in small businesses, and also those helping to take care of their families. She hosts conversations about the gendered division of household chores and teaches parents — both men and women — to encourage their children to divide tasks equally. She also seeks to amplify men’s and women’s voices equally, so they share space on the airwaves.
The team broadcasts the program at a time when women are available to listen. Finally, Duond Mikayi also makes space for women callers on their program. When men dominate the call-in line, Cynthia asks them to step aside so women can share their views.
It’s not always easy to ensure that women’s voices are amplified. The team says that it can be a challenge to get women to speak on the program. But, they say, talking with women speakers in advance helps relieve the fear of going on air.
The program team says they are seeing society change as a result of their program. Women are no longer relegated to the kitchen and are succeeding at their workplaces. They say their listeners are positive when it comes to gender equality, with some telling them that men are now sharing chores.
Being recognized by Farm Radio has been a boon for the team. Cynthia says, “I feel encouraged and motivated to continue encouraging my listeners to chak achaka, and I will continue promoting women’s voices.”
This story was originally published in Barza Wire, Farm Radio International’s newswire for African farm broadcasters. The Liz Hughes Award for Her Farm Radio recognizes radio programs that address gender equality and create opportunities for rural women’s voices to be amplified.