April 2007

Women demand equal access to leadership

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Survey over eMails

In 2006, the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC), Women's International Network (WIN), Asia Pacific, and Isis International, Manila, conducted an eMail survey among women community radio broadcasters in the Asia Pacific as regards their situation and needs. Out of the twenty three respondents from twelve different countries in the region, eighteen were women. These twenty three radio stations or production groups employ between 2 to 41 people, wherein gender balance is close to equal among the employees (see table). A community radio in Fiji is an all women's project and another station in Indonesia has only male staff, but does not call itself an all men's station.

However, a closer gender look at leadership and technical positions in these radio stations reveals a different picture. Women make up only 28 percent of leadership positions, which is comparatively better than in mainstream media where women occupy only 3 to 5 percent of leadership positions, as reported by the International Federation of Journalists in 2001. Still, women lack access to decision-making in the community radio sector.

Almost all the radio stations (21) have between one to five hours of weekly programmes by and for women. These programmes cover issues such as womens rights, health care, violence against women, literacy, and success stories of women in society.

Most of the respondents had very positive experiences on community radio work. For example, after listening to a programme on the discrimination of widows, Nepali widows in one community changed their white saris to red (a garment worn primarily by Hindu women which can be draped in various ways). Culturally, widows may never wear red clothes or sari, because it is a symbolic representation of marriage. Housewives are no longer afraid to talk about issues that were taboo before. A woman got land and property from her ex-husband who left her, thanks to a radio programme.



Suggestions

Among the most important changes the women community radio broadcasters want to bring to their radio stations are:

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