Amplifying women's voices - we need to turn up the sound

Amman, Jordan

Mavic Cabrera-Balleza from IWTC opened the second day of the AMARC conference which focuses on amplifying women’s voices for gender equality…with the good news coming first.
Mavic Cabrera-Balleza from IWTC opened the second day of the AMARC conference which focuses on amplifying women’s voices for gender equality. With the good news coming first – the election of women presidents in Chile (Michelle Bachelet) and Liberia (Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Head of the UN General Assembly, Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa of Bahrain as well as the new Speaker of the House in the USA, Nancy Pelosi. The UN has recommended a stronger Gender Equality architecture which increases the chance of formulating and implementing women’s human rights and gender equality.

Then the bad news – women make up the majority of those who live in poverty are subjected to violence in a wide range of settings, in the family, in the community, in state custody and in situations of armed conflicts and the aftermaths.

The Global Media Monitory Project of the World Association of Christian Communication (WACC) has noted a disturbung trend. In 1995 women made up 17% of news subjects. Five years later in 2000, this had increased to 18% and in 2005 this became 21%. Mavic calculated that at this pace women’s representation will be equal to that of men 74 years from now. Not something we would want to tell our girl children to look forward to.

The same monitoring project showed that women’s views are most under represented in radio – women making 17% of news subjects.

Not all the news is gloomy. Participants’ presence at the AMARC confrence means that involvement in community radio is a political practice. Participants should mobilise for positive changes for women will in media for these to resonate in broader society.

Examples were given of women in communications in Algeria who are planning to set up women’s community radio in the very near future. In Uganda we have Mama FM, a women’s community radio station which trains female presenters produces content to counter violence against women. The same is happening in Liberia. Radio FIRE ia sn inspiring example of a long history of reclaiming our spaces within media througn involvement in community radio.

Participants to the AMARC conference must ensure that the negative portrayal and under representation of women in decision making postioins is not re-representated in community radio.

She stressed the privilege of being here of meeting wonderful women and men. The privilege of listening to each others experiences, learning new technical skills and of being in Jordan. This privilege comes with responsibility to respresent our communities and ensure that the role of community radio is to empower women and gtwards gender equalty.

Media has the responsibility to normalise the world for women and men to work together to trade solutions towards a better world for all of us.

We need to use all available resources to allow women to particiate in community radio. Irony is that 10-15% of participants to this conference are women. What does that tell us? We have a long way to go.

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