UNESCO, in partnership with the South Sudan Women Empowerment Network (SSWEN) and a local radio station, carried out a capacity building training for women living in Guedele, a suburb located in South Sudan. The training was organized in the framework of the “Women’s Voices” project aimed at enabling women across the country’s ten states to talk about issues that are important for them, such as girls’ education and access to clean water.
During the training, high illiteracy among women was cited as the main reason preventing them from taking an active part in radio programming. Enabling women to generate content and provide crucial feedback on programmes broadcast by local radio stations was the objective of this capacity-building activity. Discussions during the training were facilitated by a woman from the community trained by UNESCO. The records from the training will be converted into a radio programme to be aired by a local station. This will provide women with a voice and ensure their greater presence on radio.
According to Monica, a member of Guedele Women’s Association, it was important for women to be trained on topics such as girls’ child education, widows’ welfare policies and income generating activities, among others. Sister Theresa (on picture, in blue) stated that she gained from the peace building aspect of the discussions held during the training. “During the conflict in South Sudan, I saw lots of things I did not understand, and talking about these issues now has helped me to understand them better,” she said.
Since 2005, radio has been an integral part of women’s life in Guedele. It has mainly been used to provide entertainment, advice and information to its listeners in the region. There is a need now to engage the media sector in national gender equality campaigns aimed at both women and men in order to change deep rooted attitudes that create challenges to women’s participation in the media sector, and to address the lack of gender-sensitive reporting.
UNESCO aims to address the needs of female media professionals, to promote gender equality in and through the media and, more generally, to expand the opportunities for South Sudanese women to express themselves. This work is being done in the framework of the project, entitled “Promoting an Enabling Environment for Freedom of Expression”, financed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).