Voices for change

Rural women and communication

prepared by Silvia Balit
in collaboration with the Communication for Development Group
Extension, Education and Communciation Service

ROME, 1999


In today's climate of political and socio-economic change, communication can play a decisive role in promoting food security and rural development. By fostering a dialogue between rural people and other sectors of society, communication processes can empower both women and men to provide information and knowledge as a basis for change and innovation. They can enable people to take decisions concerning their own livelihood and thereby increase their overall involvement in development. More specifically, gender-sensitive communication processes can give rural women a voice to advocate changes in policies, attitudes and social behaviour or customs that negatively affect them.



Table of Contents

Communication in a changing world

Invisible Partners

Giving a voice to rural women

Communication approaches

Looking towards the future



"History will not repeat itself in Guatemala if indigenous women have their voices heard. With today's user-friendly communication media available to them, these women will establish themselves as a conscious and participating force in future world events."

Padma Guidi
Technical Adviser and Trainer
Centre for Mayan Women Communicators


"We live in the `age of communication', but the full impact that information and knowledge can have on development is just starting to be seen. This is especially true for rural women, who shoulder much of the agricultural work and other rural activities in developing countries, where they are responsible for producing most of the food. Harnessing the power of communication - through traditional folk media, rural radio and, where available, television and the Internet - is critical both for us to learn from women and to help them learn about new ideas, practices and opportunities. The use of modern communication technologies, integrated with local channels and networks, will enable more women to be heard and reached. A common challenge, for women and men alike, is to exploit the power of communication processes as a means of realizing their potential as well as achieving equitable and sustainable development."

Jacques Diouf
Director-General, FAO



Editorial project management:
Editorial Group
FAO Information Division


The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. Applications for such permission, with a statement of the purpose and extent of the reproduction, should be addressed to the Director, Information Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy.

FAO 1999

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