My experience at the unpaid care project convening in Arusha, Tanzania

From Nov. 28 to 29, 2023, staff members working on our project about unpaid care met with project partners in Arusha, Tanzania to prepare to implement the project. Unpaid care work is defined as informal caregiving undertaken without monetary compensation. This is an account from one of the attendees, our radio craft officer in Tanzania, Esther Mwangabula.

The unpaid care project convening was a tremendous gathering of Farm Radio International staff in Arusha, Tanzania. Starting with executive director Kevin Perkins and not limited to Rex Chapota (senior advisor, strategy and growth), the event included representatives from East and West Africa, especially networking officers, coordinators and stakeholders who are the key players in the project.

We wanted to get a clear understanding of unpaid care and explore the shared experiences of the stakeholders who have been operating in this area. Farm Radio International will use their experiences as the practical foundation for the planned On Air Dialogue polls and effective radio approaches aimed at raising awareness and gathering opinions about the roles unpaid care workers — especially women — play in their communities.

The insightful discussions will be highly considered, involving policy makers and women’s rights organizations and also collecting public opinions about unpaid care, hence bringing change. An insight: considering that unpaid care is part of our everyday life, when discussing it, we should use as simple terms as possible.

Farm Radio International staff members Busi Ngcebetsha and Esther Mwangabula with representatives from partner organizations.

It was so interesting to learn from invited partners like UN Women, FEMNET, the Burkinabè Association for the Promotion of the Rule of Law and the Defense of Freedoms, the Union of Ethiopian Women and Children Associations, Tanzania Gender Network Programme and Gender Strategic Advancement International (Nigeria), as well as our implementing partner in Malawi, Farm Radio Trust. These specialized organizations had time to respond to presentations and studies conducted by Farm Radio International concerning unpaid care, guiding us as we look towards doing more in this space.

Apart from that, we explored more how On Air Dialogues are conducted. On Air Dialogues are an innovative type of interactive radio programming, which use radio and mobile phone-based polling to gather thousands of listeners’ perspectives on issues that affect them — in this case, unpaid care. The results will be used to contribute to national and Pan-African policy discussions about the issue.

Farm Radio International’s gender equality and inclusion officer, Tina Mhaka, leads a session.

Nathaniel Ofori, our digital innovation manager from Ghana, led the process of coming up with a roadmap design document to be used with radio stations for designing radio programs. Participants worked in groups. When we left, the document was ready with all the digital components.

Gender inclusion was not left behind. Participants navigated the question of how to ensure women’s participation in the coming On Air Dialogues — especially given that women are most affected by unpaid care. We reflected on the barriers to women’s participation and interaction with radio programs and how we can support them.

Looking toward Farm Radio International’s future

Farm Radio International’s executive director, Kevin Perkins.

After the project convening concluded, our staff took advantage of being gathered together to discuss other aspects of our work. The executive director, Kevin Perkins, talked about the future vision for Farm Radio International and upcoming changes to ensure that the organization is steered by Africans for Africans.

We also had three broadcasters share how they use and benefit from Farm Radio resources, followed by networking coordinators Busi Ngcebetsha and Mawuli Affognon discussing how the resources are helping the broadcasters in our network. We spoke about ways to share and amplify our comprehensive database of information resources. Moses Provabs from KCOMNET also shared his experiences on networking — if we collaborate and learn from each other, we can go far.

In the end, what was good to me was the learning but also meeting my Farm Radio colleagues in person.

About the project
The Knowledge Sharing about Unpaid Care in sub-Saharan Africa project aims to increase gender equality and women’s empowerment through a commitment to more just and equitable sharing of unpaid care and domestic work within the household and the family in sub-Saharan Africa. The project will concentrate on Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Malawi (through our partner organization, Farm Radio Trust), Nigeria and Tanzania, expanding educational radio programs to the additional countries of Ghana, Mali and Uganda and providing resources to our network based in 38 countries to run programming supported by those informational resources. This project is funded by the Government of Canada and done in partnership with UN Women, FEMNET and several nationally-based women’s rights organizations.

About the author
Esther Mwangabula is Farm Radio International’s radio craft officer in Tanzania.

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