The Role of Radio in Facilitating Women’s Participation in Development Initiatives in Rural Areas: A Case Study of Voice of Kigezi

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Uganda Christian University
Is radio broadcasting of development programmes in rural areas helpful to women's participation in development initiatives? This study examines the role of Voice of Kigezi radio station in promoting women's participation in development initiatives in Kabale Central Division. A sample of twenty-four (24) respondents was obtained through purposive sampling. These included village women, Voice of Kigezi staff and government officials. Interviews and focus group discussions were used to collect data. The data was coded and analysed using Atlas.ti 8. It was found that Voice of Kigezi radio, through the broadcast of development programmes, has aimed to create an enabling environment for women to participate in the various development initiatives in the region; providing women the opportunity to express their opinions and participate in discussions on development projects in the region, creating avenues for free health services and legal advice, and informing and educating women about the various development initiatives in the region, empowering women among others. However, financial constraints, lack of a women's listening forum, limited programmes for women, fear of some women in the region to participate in discussions, male dominance in broadcasting the development programmes, stereotyping, betrayal by the implementing agencies and the geographical nature of the region continues to prevent the station from facilitating women’s participation in the development initiatives in the region effectively. The study recommends that the government through its regulatory body - UCC - should have a clear policy on how radio stations can create equal access and participation in the production of development programmes and distribution of jobs in radio stations. A policy to create development programmes that specifically target women is also strongly recommended. Secondly, the management of Voice of Kigezi should establish a listeners' forum for women, set up toll-free telephone lines for key development programmes, ensure that evaluation of programmes is included in the strategic plan, publicise the objectives of the development programmes and the vision and mission of the station and finally, the station should strengthen its communication approach through a participatory communication model. Key words: Radio, Participation, Development Initiatives and Broadcasting