Joy Radio Institutional profile

Joy Radio Institutional profile

Date: July 2, 2013
  • SHARE:

Changing ways of thinking at Joy Radio

Gender is beyond employing women, it is about getting them in the key positions and giving them challenging assignments.’ Henry Haukeya, Head of News


Joy Radio is a private radio station jointly owned by Former state President Bakili Muluzi and IPP of Tanzania. Joy Radio has its main studios in Malawi’s second largest city Blantyre.

Joy Radio has been working with Gender Links (GL) on mainstreaming gender in institutional practice and content. This has included the development and adoption of a gender aware HIV and AIDS newsroom policy, as well as a stand-alone gender policy. After launching its gender policy in January 2011, Joy Radio has been working on policy implementation.

Before GL came on board, the levels of gender consciousness were very low, with no deliberate efforts to address the existing gaps. Joy did not have any gender specific policies in place. As such, the Gender and Media Progress Study (GMPS) revealed that women constituted 14% of news sources at Joy radio in 2010. This strengthened the need for a policy framework to address gender gaps.

Whilst a gender policy was in place during the GMPS data collection, the results pointed to the need for a more sustained approach in mainstreaming gender. When GL started the media COE process, Joy radio was one of the first media houses to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with GL. This marked the beginning of a three-year journey to transform gender relations in and through the media.

Since signing an MOU in February 2012, Joy has worked to ensure that there is gender balance in institutional composition and content.

Institutional practice

The radio station is aware of the provisions of the SADC Gender Protocol and other regional and international instruments on gender. Joy Radio has a current affairs department that conducts regular research on emerging issues. Awareness of the provisions of the SADC Gender protocol has helped the media house align its practice to the set targets. Joy Radio adopted its gender policy in 2011 and signed an MOU with Gender Links in 2012. This is in addition to the gender aware HIV and AIDS policy adopted in 2009.

According to the Station manager Lloyd Zawanda, Joy Radio has changed its thinking since it signed to be a centre of excellence for gender in the media. The media house is now giving equal opportunities to women and men. There has since been an increase in the number of women, not only working at Joy Radio, but in management roles. For example, women occupy the positions of Deputy Heads of Marketing and News departments.

The Head of News, Henry Haukeya, further elaborates on this saying, ‘There are very competent women at Joy radio and the media house continues to give them the space to excel.” In recognition of women’s potential, Joy Radio has since included women in local committees. There is now a conscious effort to involve them in decision-making.

Esther Nyanja, a journalist at the radio station further elaborates on this, saying ‘Joy Radio is a good space for women employees. Whilst media is not a 7-5 job, most female employees are happy with the working environment here.’ Esther cites the fact that the President of the Workers’ Union’ is female as evidence that Joy Radio views women as equals. She says this also helps in ensuring that the needs of female employees are catered for.

The gender policy helps Joy Radio to ensure that there is no discrimination of employees on the grounds of sex. For example, male and female journalists get equal assignments. Women are not treated with kid gloves because they are as capable as men are. Likewise the marketing team gets equal assignments.

There has also been a conscious effort to improve programming at Joy Radio with the introduction of radio programmes that specifically address gender issues. This seeks to complement the gains being made on the editorial front. Some of the programmes that specifically seek to address gender issues in Malawi include Liu la amai (voice of the mother), Girl Child and Ulimi ndi kama (farming is profitable).

Liu la amai is a show that discusses gender issues in Malawi focusing specifically on issues affecting women. One of the key themes is gender based violence. Like the rest of SADC, Malawi has high levels of gender based violence although most of the cases go unreported. According to the GMPS, GBV stories constitute just 2% of topics discussed at Joy Radio. These gender aware programmes therefore seek to bridge this gap by bringing these issues out for public discussion. Liu la amai takes various forms depending on the topic under discussion. However, there are always experts to further elaborate on issues under discussion.

Girl Child, as the name suggests, focuses on the plight of the girl child in Malawi. This includes access to education-from primary to tertiary level. According to Haukeya, girls are entitled to education just like boys are. Haukeya is particularly interested in seeing girls who fall pregnant whilst in school continuing with their education. He argues that early pregnancy should not be a reason for girls to stop studying.

Ulimi ndikama’s focus is farming. As Malawi’s economy is based on agriculture, the programme seeks to explore the challenges faced by farmers. The show recognises that the majority of farmers in Malawi are women yet their economic contribution is not fully acknowledged. The programme talks mostly to women farmers and looks at their challenges and successes.

The struggle to ensure balance of female and male voices is not an easy one as Joy radio has noticed. Zawanda highlights that it is not always easy to get women to speak out on issues. This has meant that the editorial has to work hard to include female voices. He cites socialisation as one of the key factors contributing to this. Women are very reluctant to speak out, preferring to refer all questions to their male counterparts.

Haukeya, however, says with more and more interactions with the public, the power dynamics are slowly changing in Malawi. Haukeya also says it is ironic that even with the traditional authority that they have, women still need nudging before they can speak out. He says bringing in more women employees to Joy Radio is part of efforts to reach out to female audiences.







Comment on Joy Radio Institutional profile

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *