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Developing Community Radio Skills for women in villages of Mysore

Executive summary

Mahila Samakhya Karnataka (MSK) in partnership with IT for Change and CEMCA conducted a 5- day workshop on developing community radio skills among disadvantaged rural women in the villages of Mysore, in Southern Indian state of Karnataka, at Mysore from the 20-24 December 2005.

This workshop was supported by VOICES, Bangalore, Namma Dhwani Community Radio Project, Budhikote, Kolar, the Srishti, School of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore, the Deccan Development Society (DDS), Hyderabad and Department of State Research and Educational Training, (DSERT), Karnataka.

This workshop was a first step in including radio as an integrated ICT strategy that the Mahiti Manthana (MM) project will develop for the MSK Sangha women. The project is being implemented by IT for Change under the ICTD project.  The project will introduce the Sangha women to ICTs that they are most comfortable with and, through hand-holding and demonstrated benefits, graduate to a fuller range of useful technologies.

The workshop kick started a process of using radio in innovative combinations with other ICTs to provide ‘enhanced information and communication processes for MSK activities’, which is the main objective of the MM project. The workshop was designed keeping in mind that the majority of the participants were illiterate. It had a mix of both talks and activity, through which a variety of subjects were covered. All discussions were conducted in Kannada, with no text based presentations or resource materials. Instead, simple but potent use of audio and visual technology was made.

Participants Profile
The women have been members of the MSK Sanghas for some years. Of the 20 participants only two could read and write. The others were either illiterate or could barely sign their names.

Criteria for selection
Participants were selected from those who demonstrated leadership roles in the Sanghas. Some of the women present were elected Panchayat representatives. Many of the women were also enthusiastic performers with singing, story telling, and role playing skills.

A couple of days before the workshop, the project field coordinators visited many of the women and asked them to come prepared to the workshop with story ideas for programmes. The women thus came prepared with what they wanted to share in the workshop like stories, real experiences, role-plays and skits.

While the workshop was coordinated by Swati, a consultant with the Mahiti Manthana Project of ITfC, the key resource person, A. R Pasha came with many years of experience of working at All India Radio.

Ram Bhat and Vijaya from the ‘Namma Dhwani’, Budhikote Radio Initiative,  Karnataka came and shared the history of how and why Namma Dhwani was developed. Geetha Narayanan from Srishti, School of Art. Design and Technology contributed to the workshop by sharing a radio programme that was jointly produced by children living in a slum in Bangalore and the facilitators at the learning centre that the children go to.

The technological resources that were used at this workshop were digital voice recorders, tape recorders, microphones – both omni directional and lapel, speakers with an amplifier, computers with audio editing software, LCD projector and a DVD player.

Workshop design and methodology
The workshop was designed keeping in mind that the women cannot read or write. The methodology was a combination of discussions, participatory activities, audio-visual presentations, and films, exposure visits to studios and actual hands on experience with production work, all done in Kannada language.

Workshop content
This workshop introduced the Sangha women to some key concepts:

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