The real voice of Women, Children and the Youth

Date: June 11, 2016
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Name of article:  The real voice of Women, Children and the Youth

Name of publication: YFM

Country: Malawi

Theme:  Human Rights


Sum up the situation of the Media House – how far has it come, how far has it progressed, what evidence is there of change.

If possible begin with an anecdote that demonstrates this change.

YFM is a community of interest national broadcaster, owned by Youth Net and Counselling (YONECO), a Non-Governmental organization (NGO) that was established in September 1997 to address social injustices affecting adolescent girls, promote human rights, youth development and child protection in Malawi. The organization’s vision is “A self-reliant HIV and AIDS free society that respects democratic values and principles”. YONECO is committed to empowering the youth, women and children; combating the spread of HIV infection; mitigating the impact of AIDS; promoting human rights and democracy and conducting research on youth, women and children development. Besides being operational for years, YONECO realised a need to serve more its target groups and applied for a radio licence to operate its own radio station. YFM, trading under the motto: The real voice of Women, Children and the Youth, is making a difference in promoting gender as witnessed by the feedback we received from both men and women through our feedback line. Most families are testifying that, they have experienced change in terms of how they view women and girls.

Key objectives

Please state the key gender mainstreaming objectives of the media house.

  • Promote self-reliance among the youth, women and children
  • Provide the target audiences with opportunity to voice out their concerns.
  • Promote women and youth participation in decision-making affecting their destiny and that of the country
  • Promote democracy, human rights, equality, human dignity and a non-discriminatory society


Give some background – What was the situation before gender mainstreaming efforts started. Include evidence from

leaders within the institution, and those served by the institution.

Beginning from within, both senior and junior, female and male employees of YFM were not quite sure as to what will happen to the radio especially presentation department which is headed by a female. But, 1 year down the line, it has been discovered that YFM has one of the vibrant presentation departments in the country, besides being headed by a female, therefore, dismissing all the fears people had. Initially, women especially those from remote areas had little or no voice at all, when it comes to commenting issues of national importance, however, with the come in of YFM, there is an improvement, as the station takes advantage of projects YONECO is implementing in different parts of the country to record views of women on different issues affecting their day to day lives.

Key activities

Please list at least five in bullet form.

  • Interactive radio programs
  • Community awareness
  • Radio plays
  • Use of social media
  • Selection of sources of news
  • Free airtime for gender related public function (live coverage), like during the closing of a three day national summit of the Malawi SADC Gender Protocol 2015, held at Sunbird Hotel in Blantyre, we covered it live
  • Production and airing of radio jingles that promote gender equality
  • Strengths – 300 words

What have been the main strengths?

YFM is owned by Youth Net and Counselling (YONECO), an organisation that was established to defend the rights of people including women. Since 1997, it was established, the organisation has been implementing gender related projects including the recent one–Gender Equality and Women Empowerment GEWE–funded by UNFPA and EU.

When implementing such projects, YFM staff are not left outside, they are part and parcel of implementing team. This gives them advantage of communicating well on the radio gender related issues. The presence of gender experts in YONECO has been advantageous to YFM staff as they tap knowledge from within. YONECO as well is in good books with Ministry of Gender. It signed a working Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry, this is another opportunity for the YFM producers as they don’t face problems in engaging the Ministry of gender related issues. The MOU also binds reporters and producers of this media to principles of gender to avoid breaking the marriage which is there between YONECO and Ministry of Gender.


What have been the main challenges? How have these been overcome? E.g. resistance.

One of the challenges has been resources. Resources are always inadequate, this makes it difficult for the YFM team to have voices of women from hard to reach areas. To overcome this, YFM has been using well established gender rights advocates as alternative. Culturally, gender issues are regarded as foreign, hence, their promotion has always been faced with resistance. But to overcome this, YFM staff has been using men who are advocating for gender equality to break that feeling.

Women’s empowerment

How have women been empowered as a result of gender mainstreaming efforts?

We believe knowledge is power, hence, most of our programs are meant to empower women with necessary knowledge that can help them to compete with the male flock in different aspects of life. We talk of programmes like Women and Leadership, and Amayi Yankhulani. We have also empowered women with knowledge by linking their fellows for knowledge sharing.

We have empowered women, by focusing on promotion of girl child education.

Men for change

Have men become more supportive of gender equality as a result of the institutions gender mainstreaming efforts? Please

give examples.

Through our intervention, most men have come to realise that in whatever they do, they can even do better if they partner with their wives. Men who were abusing their wives, are slowly but surely changing their behaviours. They are respecting females as fellow human beings. Through Abambo Yankhulani program for example, a certain man testified to have stopped his promiscuity behaviour.

Capacity building – 100 words

How has the training you receive on gender from NGOs, Governments etc helped to build skills, create voice, agency,

enhance leadership and empowerment and inspire journalist?

Being owned by Organisation whose focus is to promote among others the lives of women, and full of expertise on gender related issues, most of the skills of reporters and producers on gender issues are being horned from within. YFM also uses its external consultant in sharpening the skills of its staff in tackling issues of gender.


How has the gender training improved quality of programming/ reporting? Please provide examples.

Since, the station is built on a gender related institution, quality of programmes and reporting has always been up to standards, to YONECO’s expectation. Whenever, Reporters or Producers are stuck, they always consult.

Changes within the work place

Are the gender mainstreaming efforts influencing any changes in power relations at the work place? Please give a few examples.

The strategic positioning of female employees in management position has seen, people within the institution to start appreciating that women too are capable. Both male and female staff are able to take instructions from their female seniors. Female employees are also able to run night shifts like their male colleagues, as YFM operates on a 24 hour basis, live.

Changes in attitudes

Are audience attitudes changing as a result of the COE work in the media house? Please provide at least one example.

Not applicable

Lesson learned and innovation

What lessons have been learned in the process?

How are these being applied?

In the process of mainstreaming the process, we have realised that most women can achieve great things in life even more than other men. Families can also achieve more if men start taking their wives as their fellow decision makers as than just sex objects.

Sustainability and replication

How can these gender mainstreaming efforts be sustained within your organisation?

How can your Media House contribute to replicating process?

One way of sustaining is the availability of gender policy at our institution. The other way, we can sustain these efforts is through formulation of Women’s Radio Listening Clubs. Meanwhile, the media house can contribute to the replication of the process by making sure that it is airing well researched programs.

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