Babalwa Buthane – South Africa

Babalwa Buthane – South Africa

Date: August 24, 2015
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“Give women the mic, their voices will be heard”

The first GL workshop at Greater Lebowakgomo FM was a success for Babalwa, who is affectionately known as Ms. Bu to her listeners. She describes the workshop as a step towards transforming her community radio. “GL FM has had a lot of issues in the past, and honestly speaking the GL in-house workshop in 2014 was the first formal workshop the station has ever taken part in since I joined.” Ms. Bu says the station has not been training staff members and she believes training is necessary. To her the first workshop was not just ordinary, but a workshop she believes was long overdue. “Our station is headed by men, men everywhere! So when Gender Links came and spoke about equality I was very excited.”

Ms. Bu hosts the afternoon drive show at GL FM. The programme broadcast from 3 pm to 6 pm daily. This is one drive time programme that is usually allocated to men throughout the entire radio sector. In the past women were part of this programme as news readers or supporting presenters who only spoke on the instruction of the main host (normally a man). Ms. Bu says for over six months she was subjected to the norm (that a male presenter will be host) and worked even harder to claim her position as an equal presenter. “I somehow knew that if I didn’t up my game I would be a side-kick (supporting presenter) forever and I wasn’t ready for that.”

Ms. Bu now host the programme and has a male (side-kick) and female newsreader. She praised the station and GL for her recognition. “I believe the workshop has had a significant impact on the management, a lot of things changed and I believe most the female staff members feel at home at GL FM” she says the work that still needs to done is bigger but the change that has already occurred is a sign that there is progress. In short, Ms. Bu acknowledges that her journey with GL has just started, however the benefits are overwhelming: “I have the voice now on the radio, I am not embarrassed to voice my views and am not afraid that I might be victimized. GL FM has really changed.”

Ms. B has is now a confident a presenter. She says her role at the station is now visible as she believes she contributes even more on a daily basis. “In the past I would just sit in the studio and wait for my turn to speak, but now I am actively involved in the programme and have a lot to offer to both the station and the listeners as well.”

Ms. Bu points out what has changed in life, this includes her attitude: “I believe I am now gender aware. My attitude towards my listeners has changed and I now am sensitive to issues of gender.” Her knowledge has also increased. “I have learned a lot from GL in a very short space of time. I believe many young women out there can learn too.” She also thinks her presentation skills are better: “I started as a supporting presenter, my presenting was not up to scratch. I believe I did not speak a lot. I am now a better presenter because I know I can do better every day.”

“I am humbly indebted to Prof Sheila Mmusi,” Ms Bu says that she was able draw inspiration and learn from the professor. Ms. Bu says she has changed because of GL’s work and credit must give to both GL and the professor for the great opportunity presented to her.


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