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Dimitra Workshops

Strengthening the communication capacities of community radios and rural women's networks in Sud-Kivu:

Women's participation in the electoral process, the fight against sexual violence and impunity, women and DDR (disarmament, demobilisation and reinsertion) and the fight against HIV/AIDS

Workshop in Bukavu, Sud Kivu (DRC) from 23-28 February 2006

In February 2006, some 60 representatives of rural women’s organisations got together with a group of journalists from the community radio stations of the province of South Kivu in the DRC as part of a workshop on bolstering communication skills. They set the agenda for the discussion themselves, focusing on a series of specific themes for an exchange of experiences.

For a long time now, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been the site of armed conflict. And the Congolese people are paying the price. The isolation of the majority of the rural areas of South Kivu, attributable both to the insecurity that currently reigns in this region as well as the absence of transport infrastructures, is a major obstacle to communication and the spread of information.

The major role played by communication

Both community radio stations and rural women’s networks play a crucial role in disseminating information which enables local people, in particular women in rural areas, to get involved in local development processes.

However, journalists working for community radio tend to visit their listeners in their local setting infrequently and are consequently badly placed to pass on the needs of the local people, including women. In addition, rural women’s associations are not often given the opportunity to express their opinions and generally do not receive training on how to use information and communication technologies. They are given very limited access to information in general and gender-specific information in particular. Journalists and rural women’s associations only meet very rarely. Furthermore, gender is not a topic covered widely by the media and denigrating female stereotypes are still widespread.

It is necessary to ensure journalists working for community radio broadcasters are better equipped for interactive radio programmes. In parallel, rural women should be given training on how to use information and communication tools so as to enable them to take part.

A platform for discussion

A workshop focussing on these various issues was held in Bukavu, South Kivu, from 23 to 28 February 2006. It was hosted by the Dimitra project and its partners in the DRC SAMWAKI and CONAFED (National Committee for Women and Development – Comité National Femme et Développement), with the support of GTZ-Santé, the King Baudouin Foundation, the Panos Paris Institute, Radio Maendeleo, UNFPA, UNIFEM, UNDP and MONUC.

The objective of the workshop was to bolster the communication skills of the participants and raise their awareness of the gender approach for both community radio and rural women’s organisations. This was the first time that representatives of these two groups, both stakeholders within civil society, had got together to discuss the following highly relevant topics:

  • integration of gender issues into the production and scheduling of radio programmes; 
  • combating sexual violence against women and impunity; 
  • participation of women in elections; 
  • gender and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR); 
  • the fight against HIV and AIDS. 

An interactive approach

The workshop opted for an interactive working method and a series of debates and practical exercises followed on from the various presentations. The participants grasped this opportunity to put across their points of view with a great deal of energy and enthusiasm. The participants were also invited to assess the quality of the workshop at the end and agreed that the topics were relevant, the venue was ideal and the training sessions had provided them with new skills that would be useful in their day-to-day work.

© Dimitra

Recommendations

The following are some of the recommendations drafted jointly at the end of the workshop:

  • creating or reinforcing radio clubs and encouraging women in rural areas to get involved;
  • helping women in rural areas to develop their own information and communication tools;
  • creating a platform through which women in rural areas can express their opinions via community radio and the other media;
  • encouraging women to create radio programmes for other women;
  • boosting synergy and exchange between community radio and women’s organisations;
  • offering special training for journalists and women in rural areas.

Rural radio, listeners’ clubs and HIV/AIDS

The Bukavu workshop was such a success that the organisers have decided to repeat the event in Lubumbashi (Katanga) in May 2007. Moreover, a project has been set up entitled “Strengthening community radio and listeners’ clubs to help combat HIV/AIDS in South Kivu and Katanga”. This project is being supported by Dimitra and the King Baudouin Foundation. Its aim is to encourage rural people to take greater ownership of the fight against HIV/AIDS through support from two key players: journalists from community radio stations and women’s organisations.

For further information on the workshop (programme, presentations and report), click here