Radio Islam Institutional profile

Radio Islam Institutional profile

Date: July 3, 2013
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Resources and religion slowing the strides

“I believe if journalists took an interest in gender, lives would change” – Maulana McPherson

Radio Islam is a privately owned religious station that broadcasts from Limbe in Malawi. Its primary target audience is Muslim, and Yao speakers. The station has enthusiastically participated in GL policy drafting workshops as well as trainings on gender violence and HIV and AIDS since GL’s first contact with them between 2009 and 2010. It has adopted a policy; however has not yet signed an MOU for the COE project and thus no monitoring has been carried out.

“It is the first time that we have a female editor since we started ten years ago”, says Maulana Mcpherson the senior producer at Radio Islam. McPherson eagerly continues to recount the changes that have gradually taken place at the station. “We have made some strides within the station that show there are movements in the right direction. Recently for the first time we advertised a position for station manager and the advert stated that women are encouraged to apply”.

Radio Islam has a balanced newsroom, with two women and two men. Doreen Kaondo, who has been and the station for a few years, is now head of presentation. Although McPherson -who was the only person present at the verification meeting- maintains that women are occupying these key positions, Kaondo was not present at the meeting and nor did she seem to know too much about the COE process. The station recently had female technician intern, but McPherson explained that there is room for improvement in employing women into technical positions.

While Radio Islam could be considered progressive in terms of gender mainstreaming, religion still remains a determining factor in the allocation of certain duties and positions; “Because we are an Islamic radio station, when we give these positions to women, there are some religious concerns. We might not send women into the field because it doesn’t comply with Islam. It’s not that we think a woman can’t do it but it’s an Islamic consideration”. McPherson maintained that management does not restrict women from applying for positions and duties. Furthermore, remuneration apparently does not differ from men to women with the same experience and qualifications.

McPherson, who was speaking on behalf of the absent board, explained that the changes that have taken place can be both indirectly and directly attributed to discussions with GL, “Even without GL we took the responsibility to do it, but they helped us monitor and enhance these efforts. We look at issues differently, we see that women are victims but also that men can be silent victims too”. Having attended a number of workshops held by GL and other organisations, with this better understanding of gender and media, Radio Islam strives to share this with listeners.

The station has started producing and broadcasting weekly programs on issues relating to marriage, empowerment and women’s health. “We look at what is being done to sensitise and educate people and health professionals. Women must not be stranded and must seek help because a lot of health problems often lead to divorce and these women are left destitute”. McPherson also said that journalists and presenters are encouraged to use gender sensitive language and that there is a move away from careless reporting that demeans women.

The primary obstacle that the station faces is a financial one, as they do not have the means or resources to prioritise gender mainstreaming. “I wanted to do a story on women and HIV but management says they don’t have the budget and that we must do it in our personal capacity; but I need the resources to cover the story”, McPherson explains.

McPherson, expressed the need for more visits from the country representative as well as more training and guidance from GL to effectively implement their gender policy and monitoring. He also made an interesting point about GL’s teams; “GL needs more men to communicate that information to other men. This way we could have a rapid response. Men need to speak to men.”

Although progress cannot be wholly verified as the scorecard was not completed and the board as well as the key women of Radio Islam were largely absent from this discussion, there is an apparent enthusiasm and willingness to get more involved, based on the desire for more guidance from GL as well as the gradual COE progression. The efforts made in terms of content, programing and staff demographic demonstrates the tangible commitment and potential for much bigger and better strides.



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