Fiji Women Community Radio Initiative Takes Suitcase Radio to the Field
Another exciting initiative is about to take place with femLINKpacific (Media Initiatives for Women), a women's media NGO which in 2004 launched femTALK 89.2FM, its mobile women's community radio project. This month, the femLINKpacific volunteer team takes to the road with their "radio in a suitcase" in Fiji.
"femLINKpacific's suitcase radio, femTALK 89.2 is going mobile first time," says Coordinator Sharon Bhagwan Rolls. "Since the launch of our project in May 2004, we have focused on staging monthly broadcasts in Suva on the last Sunday of every month. Now, as result of the grant of the Intergovernmental Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) which we secured from UNESCO last year, and with focal points assigned in the west and north, we are now taking the suitcase radio to women in their communities for the very first time!"
The first set of technical trials and live broadcasts from the field are planned for the next two weeks:
"We have linked up with a group of women who have been involved in the E-Chutney project in Navua and the broadcast content on Friday 14 January will be centered around their daily issues and realities. The issues and topics that the women themselves will raise with us during the pre broadcast consultations on 12 and 13 January. During these consultations we will also be undertaking focus group discussions as part of the development of a mainstream radio campaign on Women and HIV/Aids."
The broadcast will be located at the ALTA Resettlement area in Vakabalea, Navua, on Friday 14 January from 10am. The Suitcase Radio then moves on to Lautoka for another round of pre broadcast consultations and a live broadcast in the Sugar City on Saturday 22 January:
"Then next week we head out west to team up with our Lautoka based partner organization, the Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises 'N' Development (FRIEND), and also visit the Senior Citizen's Centre in Ba, before we broadcast live for the very first time in Lautoka on Saturday 22 January."
The aim of the femTALK 89,2FM project is to not only create a new space on the radio waves for community based discussion, but also to provide practical opportunities for women within their own communities to highlight and address issues relevant to them:
"The principle focus of femLINKpacific's range of community media initiatives is "women speaking to women for peace", a direct link with the women's peace initiatives during the May 2000 crisis, in particular the Blue Ribbon Peace Vigil, where femLINKpacific was "born". What we have observed, and therefore what our policy based motivation is that the decision making structures still lack equal representation by women, and we need to increase the capacity of women and young women to effectively participate, especially from the rural population and the poor, to communicate openly on common matters.
By developing and implementing a range of women's media initiatives, such as taking a small mobile radio unit out to women and the communities, femLINKpacific offers a "safe space" to articulate and exchange their viewpoints. For example, with femTALK 89.2FM by using the low-power transmitter, we encourage women to speak to each other and with their communities. Once people are able to share their opinions freely and safely, then we can say we are truly experiencing democracy."