Community radios promote the empowerment of girls and young women through education in Tanzania

Radio is essential to inform, engage and transform attitudes. For people living in remote villages, community radios are often one of the main ways to get information, especially as access to other media such as newspapers, television and the internet may not be possible.

Through community radios, people in Tanzania, including girls and women, can gain knowledge and make informed decisions on questions affecting their daily lives.

Through the Joint Programme on Empowering Adolescent Girls and Young Women through Education in Tanzania, UNESCO has worked closely with community radios to raise community members' awareness on gender equality and other gender questions that can impact girls’ and young women’s education.

Radio journalists participated in UNESCO-led trainings to strengthen gender-sensitive reporting skills and develop radio programmes promoting gender equality. With support from UNESCO, community radios broadcasted interactive programmes on sexual and reproductive health, prevention of and responses to gender-based violence, adolescent marriage and pregnancy and gender roles.

As a result of broadcasting programmes on gender equality and women’s empowerment, community radios reached more than 1 million people across four districts in Tanzania – Kasulu district in Kigoma region, Ngorongoro district in Arusha region, Sengerema district in Mwanza region, and Mkoani in Pemba island – and saw an increase in women’s participation.

Meet Mathias Tooko

Mathias Tooko is the station manager of Loliondo FM, a community radio covering five areas in which the Joint Programme supports in Tanzania. Loliondo is a community about 130km away from Serengeti National Park and an 8-hour drive through rough roads from Arusha. “Here, radio is the only media platform through which our community gets information and knowledge”, says Mathias.

Engaging with the Joint Programme in the past three years, Mathias has seen a tangible shift in women’s participation and the quality of their engagement in radio programming.

Women's participation in radio programmes increased remarkably. Before the work of the Joint programme, only a few women listeners called or texted us to give opinions. Now, more than 20 incoming calls are from women listeners. I found that women gained the confidence to speak out and express their opinions.
Mathias Tooko, Loliondo FM Station Manager

Loliondo FM now runs a weekly programme on gender equality as a result of the UNESCO trainings for journalist. This programme has invited the police desk and UNESCO representatives to introduce the reporting system for gender-based violence incidents in district and ward offices. As a result, the station has received calls and text messages from girls about gender-based violence cases.

“People now consider Loliondo FM as another reporting desk for discussing gender-based violence cases”, says Mathias “We help find solutions with community members and ward officials.”

“One happy memory is when an income-generating group of girls called to me to visit their village”, says Mathias. “They were dropped-out-of school girls participating the Joint Programme. With support from UNESCO, they were able to develop entrepreneurial and pre-vocational skills and turn their lives around. They formed a group called 'Shinning Group', making and selling soap and grain and nuts flour. In March, they opened a restaurant. They shared their story and advertised their products through radio.”

The station has also recently been airing weekly COVID-19 briefs to keep community members abreast of the latest developments and provide up-to-date information and advice.

As a journalist, I am proud of our radio station for providing an interactive platform where more girls’ and women's voices are presented and amplified. We deliver news and information that help our community as a whole.
Mathias Tooko, Loliondo FM Station Manager