December 2006

ICTD Project

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Women's Voices on Air

Potential of Community Radio

ICTs have a much greater impact when they are brought into an existing empowerment process. This can be seen in the Mahiti Manthana project where ICTs are facilitating the information and communication processes of Mahila Samakhya sanghas and also giving marginalised women a voice to articulate issues which affect their lives.

There was an air of festivity in  Chamanhalli Hundi village in HD Kote taluk of Mysore district. A bright colourful shamiana (cloth awning) had been erected and it was teeming with women, equally resplendent in attire and mood. Children jostled at the entrance while an occasional village bus stopped near the place to disgorge passengers. It was a pleasant winter evening on 29 Nov 2006. The mood was one of anticipation and pride. The inaugural radio programme, produced by women of this village, was to be broadcast at 6 p.m. When the announcer mentioned the name of the village a loud cheer went up from the audience. It was indeed a day for the village women to walk tall. They had come a long way from battling arrack producers who were wrecking havoc with their lives to being participants in a radio programme which would be heard by all women in the five taluks of Mysore district. Their voices were now on air. No mean feat.

The whole process of how women readily took to ICTs was summed up succinctly by Parimala, District Coordinator, MSK who said, “MSK was involved in the process of empowering women. Mahiti Manthana came in at an appropriate stage. Initially MSK was apprehensive about using technology. We thought it would be difficult for rural women to accept technology. On the contrary it was the other way round. Sanghas are coming forward to take this up and fight for their own space. More and more Sanghas are coming forward and we are unable to keep up with the demand. ICT is a great tool for the empowerment of women. When MSK comes to an end, Mahiti Manthana should continue the process.”

The inauguration was attended by representatives of NISG, UNDP, IT for Change (ITfC), Mahila Samakhya Karnataka (MSK), Commonwealth of Learning and Karnataka State Open University (KSOU).

The broadcast was on the Gyanvani channel (FM 105.2 MHz) of IGNOU through the KSOU. The half-hour programme titled “Kelu Sakhi” (in Kannada it means “listen friend”) will be broadcast every Monday at 9 pm, with a repeat broadcast on Tuesday at 9 am. The live broadcast will start from 25 Dec 2006. The format of the programme is as follows:

   Human Interest story
   MSK update
   Woman of the Week (featuring story, song, etc by one woman)
   Advertisement by KSOU
   Songs/play/information (about police, bank, law, etc)

The ideas and content for each programme are given by the women or by MSK while ITfC takes care of the technicalities of recording and editing the programme. Three women from Chamanhalli Hundi

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