Women's Community Radio in Africa: The Case Study of Gindiku FM in Senegal
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Since the 1990s, women's community radio has been part of the media landscape of Africa countries. Set up and run by women, community radio is giving voice to women and empowering them. Drawing upon feminism and participatory communication, this research has used multiple methods to explore the rich and innovative experiences of the women's radio stations in Senegal. The case of Gindiku FM, one of the four women's radio stations in Senegal, is used to assess the community radio's revolutionary potential for development and progressive social change. The findings show that women's community radio has emerged as a response to women's marginalization in both mainstream media and in alternative community media, as well as to women's need to have their own communication means. The findings reveal that Gindiku FM is an outstanding model of a women's community radio station that has successfully articulated gender and participatory communication to empower rural and poor women living in a context dominated by a Sufy Islamic Order. The findings show that three key factors have contributed to the success of Gindiku FM. The first factor is a clear commitment to integrating a gender perspective in all of their actions and therefore to question gender-based discrimination and marginalization. The second factor is the set-up of a network of 60 rural women reporters and 60 listening groups, in as many villages, as a scheme to ensure women's inclusion and participation in the radio station. The third factor is the implementation of gendered programming targeting inequality, social injustices, and women's subordination. The findings of this study indicate that Gindiku FM has produced changes both at individual and community levels. Women have been empowered technically, culturally and socially. The traditional image of a silenced woman, lacking agency and self-esteem, is fading for a new one that is more vocal, dynamic and less entrenched in traditional and patriarchal values. Therefore, Gindiku FM has emerged as a powerful model that can inspire women's media activists, as well as donors willing to support initiatives in gender and communication for development.