Transworld Radio Institutional profile

Transworld Radio Institutional profile

Date: July 2, 2013
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Crusading women empowerment through the media

“We would like to feature more female voices on air as news sources and presenters but also coax a number of them to be content contributors.”

Situated at the heart of Malawi’s capital city, Lilongwe, Trans World Radio (TWR) Malawi is the oldest private broadcasting institution in the country. As early as in 1974, TWR started transmitting on shortwave from Manzini, Swaziland.

The radio started operating in Malawi in 1985 and it officially opened its studios and a national office in Lilongwe in 1986.

TWR is a nondenominational, Christian radio station that broadcasts programmes in areas of Christian discipleship, health, education, governance, gender and human rights just to mention a few. Up until the year 2000, all TWR Malawi transmissions were on shortwave from Manzini, Swaziland, but were produced in Chichewa, English and Chitumbuka languages. On 16 December 2000, TWR Malawi FM went on air with initial coverage to Blantyre and the surrounding areas. Four years later, TWR managed to expand its coverage to cover all the three regions of the country and beyond.

Trans World Radio Malawi is among the eleven media houses in Malawi that have a long working relationship with Gender Links. Through Gender Links Centre of Excellence (COE) initiatives, TWR has mainstreamed gender issues in their programming and as an institution. For the past three years, TWR has embarked on a number of initiatives to increase the female voice in the radio.

“Most of our content contributors are male. We have programme presenters who are female, but behind most of those programmes is a male voice,” says Victor Kaonga, the radio’s National Director. The director says the radio is doing this intentionally and it is being done in two ways. “We would like to feature more female voices on air as news sources and presenters, but also coax a number of them to be content contributors.” Meanwhile, TWR has three female regular content contributors and Kaonga says this was not the case three years ago.

According to Kaonga, for the first in history of TWR, on 8 February 2012 the radio featured a female preacher in its famous lunch hour programme, Nkhomaliro ya Mawu (Lunch hour devotion). He described this as “a positive step towards increasing female voices on air – not only as a presenters but content contributors as well.”
The radio also dedicated a full week in 2011 to women as part of 20th anniversary celebration of mother’s day. During this week, the radio gave an opportunity to laywomen to do radio programmes. “We thought this was one way of expressing our appreciation to many things that mothers do for us in this country,” says Kaonga adding that the radio particularly targeted women who had never been in the studios or had radio experience. Malawi set aside every second Monday of the month of October as a special day to celebrate mothes, making October a mothers’ month.

As a way of continuing its crusade of increasing female voices on the radio, TRW featured nine recipients of the Women of Distinction (WOD) award in a weekly personality special programme. WOD award recognises and appreciates numerous roles some women have played in contributing to the economic and social wellbeing of the country. “We believe iron sharpens iron and we thought we needed to give Women of Distinction a platform to share their inspiring stories to other women and the society at large,” says Kaonga.

At an institutional level, the radio station is also making strides in ensuring that there is equality between men and women and that their rights are fully respected. For instance, the board of directors of the radio has equal numbers of men and women, while female employees are given 90 working days as maternity leave. Realising that the media has the power to influence people’s behaviours and perceptions, TWR does not allow any sexiest adverts to be aired on the radio.
Recognising that men also have a role to play in parenting, the organisational policy stipulates that male employees must be given seven days paternity leave when they have a baby.

However, TWR is failing to attain gender equality at a staff level due to low staff retention. Nevertheless, the radio gives equal opportunities to women and men whenever it is advertising a job.



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