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Farm Radio International developed the Her Farm Radio (HFR) project with funding from IFAD, in response to recognized barriers facing rural women in accessing relevant agricultural information and in having their needs, experiences and questions shared on a wide-reaching communication platform. Women’s lesser access to radio sets and mobile phones, the paucity of rural women’s voices within rural radio programs, and the lack of on-air discussion of gender-related issues of importance to women all conspired to reduce the relevance of rural radio to female farmers. The project began in January 2015 and concluded at the end of June 2017.
Women carry out a substantial and growing part of the work on family farms and represent 43 percent of the global agricultural workforce. In many parts of the world, women are more likely to work in agriculture than in any other sector. Much of this work is unrecorded, undervalued and unpaid. In addition, the challenges that are common to all family farmers are often exacerbated for rural women, impeding their ability to improve their own livelihoods and those of their families.
For women to have more meaningful contributions to farm management and decision-making, they must have consistent access to relevant and reliable agricultural information provided through easily available means that suit their daily lives and schedules. Further, women need to have opportunities to participate equitably in the conversations, sharing their own experiences, perspectives and needs. In many rural areas in East and Southern Africa, this is a major gap, yet the infrastructure exists to make this happen, in the form of radio and mobile phones. FRI has long worked with local radio stations and has evidence to show that programs which respect and include women farmers can give them the confidence to ask questions, make decisions and support new practices within their family farm.
The innovative approach adopted in this grant was to build the capacity of female farmers to express their voices and advocate for their needs and rights through radio and mobile phones. Through greater awareness of gender issues, and targeted segments within radio programs, the project aimed to provide women with increased access to information critical to improving their livelihoods and helping them to be more resilient as a group or community.
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