ARDA Women Celebrate International Women’s Day

March 8, 2010

 

ARDAwomen reflect today on the status of women all over the world and particularly in the developing countries.  We recognize the immense and critical contributions that women make daily to the welfare of their families, the development of their communities and societies. Often their contributions are discounted or unappreciated. Women all over have come a long way. Despite obstacles and gender- informed barriers and limits, they have worked within and around every difficulty to keep things together for their families and communities.  There’s progress and opportunities for women to become visible and vocal partners with men in developing their societies in many countries, but there is still a lot of work to be done in order to protect the smallest rights of human beings, where women and girls are concerned in some others

We think of women in the middle of crises, be they conflicts, wars, natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, mudslides, fires, droughts and floods. As they struggle to keep their families together with little or no rations, always encouraging and speaking hope to quell the fear rising in the hearts of their children, they who will have no one to minister to their own rising panic will have to breath deeply in order to find the strength within their core to carry on… to just get up and keep going.  Sisters we care. We think of you and all you are going through. You are Heroes, each and every one of you. We celebrate you today if not every day.

ARDAwomen celebrate the women farmers of Gwagwada who recently partnered with us to learn how to use ICTs to instigate development and challenge gender inequalities in a traditionally set community in northern Nigeria. Through a small focused project supported by the GenARDIS fund, the strong, honest and hardworking women of Gwagwada surmounted many obstales to show what a determined group of women can achieve in a very short time if they are engaged and given a space to raise their voices above a whisper.

We salute women everywhere and hear your individual and collective voices. We affirm that you have something to say about this world which if heard will change it positively. So we beg you to have your say. 

Illiterate and poor rural women farmers  gained access to mobile phones, to call in to a radio program on agriculture and adaptation to climate change to find solutions to farming problems. They also participated in social analysis and conscientization through theatre for development. They have since organized and formed farming associations and cooperatives and on the road to improving  livelihoods and food security in their community. They have learned also to engage local government elected officials, bank staff and agricultural extensionists.

Data Phido

ARDA, Lagos

Women farmers Voices

February 20, 2010

With a little more probing the following was gathered from the coordinator of the listeners club at Gwagwada:

Q: From all the significant changes, which is the most significant change of all?

The most significant change was operating a bank account because before now, it just seemed like it would never really happen.

Q: What is the short –term plan of the club?

Well, we have started attending a literacy school. Also, we hope to start receiving loans from the bank by January 2010. We will buy food items such as rice and keep till the time the prices have risen then we will sell.

Q: What are the long term plans?

We hope to turnover the money we make from selling when food is scarce in order to generate more income for the club.

Q: From the live theatre performance, cell phone use, call in process, radio programs which was most influential?

Actually, learning to use cell phones really helped us and it was a new thing that has never ever happened in this village that people would come to teach us to use phones. We also liked the fact that we could dance to our music and tell stories of our lives in the dramas

Q: Why do you think more men called into a radio program that was a female program?

Well, more men have phones and more men also listen to radios so even though it was for women, there was a lot to learn so the men called in more.

Q: To what extent would they say that this project has influenced or not influenced the better perception of women farmers in your community?

This project has really given us status in this community because people know us now; people come to meet us to teach them how to use phones, people know that we can get things done as a group so people treat us with more respect now.

Q: To what extent has any of the activities mentioned above challenged gender roles or inequalities?

We women still have a lot of work to do but now in church, our pastor and elders usually encourage men to assist their wives so that they can attend literacy school and the men listen to us more now. In church, we are given more responsibility and with the literary school, we know that we would soon be able to hold posts in schools and other places.

Q: To what degree of success?

I can only say that men assist us more for example sometimes my husband will put water on the fire for bathing when he wakes up but I cannot speak for everybody.

Q: What more needs to be done?

Now that we have started the literacy program, we need books and other support so that what we have started can be sustained. Also, we need to encourage the people teaching us so that they will not be tired.

Q: What have we learned about working with community men and women about challenging the gender disparities that exist in access to ICT and other development opportunities by women farmers?

R: well like today, you saw that very few people attended the literacy class because now is harvesting season so everybody is busy on the farm. But usually, we are more than this in number. Many of the women are also not really interested in phones until somebody buys for them

Q: What then is the solution?

We just have to continue encouraging people to attend the school and to also see the benefits of phones, radios and education in general although now people are getting to understand.

Q: Do men and women see this women’s literacy opportunity as an important one for their community?

Yes, because people are now seeing that when everybody knows, there is more progress. The women also see that they too, can hold positions.

Q: How can the family restructure gender roles and division of work load so as to enable women take full advantage of the opportunity?

We just have to be careful and women should not be rude to their husbands but ask them to assist them in their work. Also, the more people like the pastor approach men to help their wives, the more men will listen.

Q: Is this even a possibility?

Yes, even now we are starting to see some changes

Q: why is this such a constraint?

Because this is how it has always been.

Women farmers’ voices

February 20, 2010

The women of Gwagwada gave the following responses when asked the most significant change as a result of the program:

1st woman (Christy): the most significant change for me is in the area of organization. We were able to form a cooperative society from the listeners club and this has shown us that we have to have guidelines that we must abide by in order to succeed. We have established conditions like when someone can receive a loan from the cooperative’s account. Since the cooperative society is for all of us, nobody is above the law so everybody can be sanctioned when we err. So, everyone feels a sense of responsibility; it is as if this is our child and we are grooming her. So we have come up with our own guidelines of what is expected of every member and anybody who behaves otherwise is rebelling. The cooperative society is also a form of security for members because we find constructive ways of helping each other in times of need. We also learn from each other so we are a family. Even though we are a part of various organizations in our church, this is different because this one is ours.

2nd woman (Lami): for me, the most significant change is in the area of mobile phones. Before now, I never really knew how to operate a phone. If I ever needed to, my husband will do it for me but now I can confidently use a mobile phone on my own. Also in the area of banking, this program ahs really helped. Like now, we have been able to gather our stipends from the listeners club and open an account. Not only that, but we also have levies in the cooperative and we are able to save that. It is as if we are now a part of society because we had to find out things like when we will be eligible to receive loans and the conditions. We also do internal borrowing among ourselves and so far, we have cashed an additional 10,000.00 of our own.

3rd woman (Hannatu): This program has really been useful to me especially in the area of banking. Now we have an account so we are able to save our money as a group and plan towards activities that would enable us profit and grow. We also know where we can go to get correct information. As for the phone of which I am a custodian, we do not have many customers because we are inside the village but we are hoping to find a way of getting a shop in the market so that we can make more business calls and generate more income.

4th woman (Jummai): the change that is most significant for me is the banking. I have not used a bank before but now we go to the bank to ask questions all the time and we are saving our money. Truly, this has really made me feel worthy.

5th woman (Asibi): The area that has really touched me is in the area of the cooperative society. It is very encouraging when we gather together because we share experiences with one another and learn from each other. In the past we have tried to start up cooperatives but it never really took root. Now we organize activities for ourselves that can help us learn new things. Other groups have also started forming into cooperative societies and now, we are able to get incentives from the local government more easily.

6th woman: (Mrs. Zarmai): I have been seeing the women gathering and I have noticed that they are more confident now. They take their activities very seriously; even their dressing has changed! Now they all dress to look their best; the way people of class or educated women behave.

7th woman: (Tani Kaura): The truth is that this group has really changed the way I think about mobile phones. I would never have thought that in my old age I would be able to use a phone; I always felt it was for the younger generation and this has really encouraged me to keep on looking for things I want in life. I am still pleading so that whatever assistance you people can offer us, you will offer so that we can move forward; with your help.

Four men were asked the most significant change noticed in the women and their responses were as follows:

1st man (Mr. Umaru): For me, the most significant change I have noticed in the women is their boldness. Many of them now are confident to speak in public. They do not shy away anymore. In my house, my wife takes more decisions than she used to and I listen to her because I know that she understands some things better than I do. Another thing I have noticed is that the women all want to be educated so we have started a literacy program for them where we teach them to write and read in Hausa. Many of them show up except they are very busy in the farm.

2nd man: (Zakaria): Actually, I don’t really know what the women do but every other Sunday, I see them gather under the tree discussing.

3rd man: (The village pastor): The women really impress me. They meet under the mango tree behind my house regularly and you notice that they are bolder and more confident now. Their surroundings are always neat and they just seem to be more confident. I’ve also noticed that several of them are learning to read and write now.

4th man: Truly, these women amaze me. The other day, I saw one of them explaining to a man the correct way to apply fertilizer and other farm inputs. The women are bold and they are even farming more than they used to. Also, several of them have bought phones and you will see them teaching their neighbours how to use mobile phones. Suddenly, several of them are going for literacy classes.

The custodian of the handset said they are looking for a way to get a shop inm the market so that they can generate more income from the phone.

Radio programs, mobile phones and women farmers

February 4, 2010

27/09/09 EPISODE 12

Hi everyone, the radio program today focuses on the effect of climate change on the lives of farmers. Musa our presenter makes a comparison between his life on the farm whilst growing up and his experiences now. He encourages women to call in and share the changes they have observed in the environment and the impact of these changes on their livelihoods. A few women call in and speak about how they must go further in search for fuel such as firewood because the forest is farther away. Even their farm lands are farther away because the land close by is no longer fertile. Asabe says that most of these roads are in states of disrepair, so it takes a lot of time and energy to get food crops and firewood from these forest lands to their homes. She calls on the government to help them prepare roads to make their lives easier. After the discussion, Musa encourages farmers (men and women) to make sure that they replant trees and to keep planting fruit tree like their fore fathers did. By so doing, he says, they can have fruits to sell in order to supplement the income they make from their farms. The listeners are also encouraged to use organic manure because it helps to retain soil moisture, to save and collect rain water when the rains are heavy, to plant crops that mature faster and finally to be keen information seekers so that they the farmers stay abreast on issues that concern them. They can always get useful information from the Kaduna agricultural development program and from the local government. Once again, the issue of using ICTs is visited. Women are encouraged to actively search for information by learning to use mobile phones, tune radios and even search for information on the internet; they have to see these technologies as being useful in getting much needed information.

After the show, we suggest that the women  hold a theatre for Development performance to illustrate to the other community members what they have learnt in the course of the radio program as well as the activities they have started. The women agree to do so. We refuse to give them any storylines; instead the women develop the skits from their experience during the show. The first drama skit shows women that have learnt to use phones and how the phones have helped them keep in touch with important sources of information. It shows how even older women are now able to use phones when necessary. The second skit shows how they have formed a cooperative society and how they explain to another group of women the benefits of cooperative societies and how they could get registered with the local government. The third shows how the women in the cooperative start saving their weekly contributions and eventually open a bank account. The skit tells the benefits of having a cooperative account and what can be achieved from banking operations.

11/10/09

Episode 13

13 weeks has gone so fast! The final episode of our radio program airs and it tells stories of appreciation from a very large community of Gbagyi farmers country wide. Several people call to express appreciation and broadcast how the show has helped them make changes in their lives for the better. A lady thanks the host and sponsors of the show; saying that she is able to use her phone to find out market information, to keep in touch with other sellers and to sell more competitively. The Sai Gbagyi; who is the chief of the Gbagyi community expresses his appreciation for having given Gbagyi women a voice. A reverend from Gwagwada where the listeners club is based also calls in and expresses his gratitude on the encouragement and priority that the show has given women;(showering enough blessings on GENARDIS and ARDA) boosting their morale and helping them to carry out their activities with more confidence. The sole administrator from Gwagwada also calls and expresses his gratitude on his community being chosen as a focal point for the project. Everyone is happy and especially our women who enthusiastically rehearse their play which will hold on Thursday the 15th of October. The radio station also makes a contribution by providing 3 weeks bonus episodes and the people of the state beckon on the government to sponsor another quarter of the program.

Before arriving at the village today, some men at the park were offended that I being a lady should take the front seat and to prove their disdain, a small scene was created.  After my first word, I paid them no heed; after all, I was already seated in front while they were squashed in the back seat. My spirits were a little damp because of the insulting note that the men used. Getting to the village however, and seeing these women and the smile on their faces, the look of having achieved something to call theirs took away every reservation and annoyance that was breeding inside of me. To make it all better, Baba Auta who has always supported our efforts came down from his motor bike so that I could ride to the village while he walked and so I knew that we still had males who would support and encourage our efforts in improving the livelihoods of women. It’s been a pleasure; a wonderful experience…there has always being a lifting up when my soul is down cast and I only hope that the fire that has been ignited in the lives of these women will keep shining on so that they could achieve all of what they have been made to be. It’s been very nice being a part of this project. I’ll keep you’ all posted on the theatre and hopefully on the activities of the women. Oh! some other women in the village have already taken cue and formed their cooperative society which I think is wonderful!.

Radio Programs and listeners’ clubs

February 4, 2010

13/09/09 Episode 10

The radio show today, continues with the topic of ICTs and why women seem to be left behind in the use of information devices. A farmer named Yohanna says that he got a phone for his wife even before he got one for himself and sometimes, he needs to pass on very useful information to his wife so he calls. This, he says, could save time and money. Another caller illustrates how he was able to get improved maize seeds from the local government because someone called him and told him to rush there. A lady called Azimi calls and says that it is little wonder they are not doing as well on their own farms because there is no network of women farmers and no means to quickly pass on information from one woman farmer to the other. This is the reason why they, as women miss out on many farming opportunities. Another lady says that her husband says that she would be promiscuous if he buys her a phone so he wouldn’t buy her one.  Mrs. Cecilia, a guest host, calls the radio station and encourages women to come together and collectively buy a phone so that they can keep a needful contact base with farming organizations; she says that they could own a collective phone for a start before they can get phones individually. The presenter, Musa, says that maybe men are scared of a woman’s potential that is why they have chosen to leave them out of the technology race. He says that if indeed, they want to progress, they need strong women to back them up if not, they would not progress as fast as they ought to. He refers to the woman as the back bone of the family and quotes a popular adage which says that “when you train a woman, you train a nation”.

After the show, the women at the listeners club complain that their recharge cards seem to run really fast and they exhausted the last credit unit when they made a call to us. As always, they listened to the show and soon after, started raising questions about their banking operations. We promise that a way would be found so that they could maximize the money put into buying recharge cards.

Before the show began, we repeated training on the use of mobile phones for the women. The wife of the sole administrator was the trainer. The trainer began with Tani who previously said that she knew she couldn’t learn to use phones in her lifetime. After Tani, all the other women present practiced making and receiving calls. The women offered us corn as a show of appreciation and we departed to town.

20/9/09 Episode 11

Responding to the women’s financial capacity vis a vis the affordability of airtime for mobile phone calls,  the radio program today showcases different call plans that have been put in place by the mobile service providers  in order to offer the customer various calling alternatives depending on what the customer deems as best. A member of the club, Hannatu Lohu, in whose home the public phone calls are made, complains that since they migrated from the default calling platform to free night calls platform, the tariff during the day has become high; also making their call rates higher than other people and she doesn’t know how to change it back. The presenter advises her to change the platform to “extra connect” which would mean more expensive sms services and no free night calls; however, all their calls would be way cheaper. The presenter also says that another advantage of this plan would be that they would be able to have a list of four numbers to which the call charges will be as low as 25 kobo per second.  Lami asks the presenter to explain the other call plan so that they would choose the better plan. The presenter explains that the other calling plan known as EXTRA COOL means that the women could send sms messages at cheaper rates and make free calls at night provided that they have a balance of 100 Naira but there is no incentive to making calls during the day. He explains that this plan is better for individuals than groups for obvious reasons.  Jummai Auta, another member says the phone booth at the market  makes calls for as cheap as 20 Naira and to this the presenter says if they change to extra connect, they would be able to charge 20 Naira; and at a profit. Other people from the Gbagyi community call to clarify the different plans. The presenter also tells them that there are other special calling plans and he gives the MTN (the mobile phone service provider in this location) phone number for the MTN customer call center and asks interested parties to call for more information. Finally, the sole administrator of Gwagwada makes a call appealing to MTN to fulfill its promise quickly by installing a mast in their village. This, he says would make communication a lot easier because people would not have to buy antennas or look for hot spots before they can make or receive calls. He also says that it will make the masses especially women, learn faster how to use phones to improve their lively hoods. To end the show, the presenter shares a story with the audience of how he gets very important alerts from friends and family members whenever farm inputs are available at the local government or wherever. As such, Musa encourages Gbagyi women to make use of mobile phones as a quick means to send important messages across; Women, he says, can create communities and associations with marketers in other parts of the state, which will grant them information on market prices, market demand and location. Instant orders for crops can be placed on phone, easier access to information on farm inputs can be obtained when a phone is used optimally. Mobile phones, should therefore, become a priority in improving the livelihoods of women farmers.

At the end of the show, we go through the various plans with the women and assist them in changing from extra cool to extra connect.  The meeting ends with a few more questions on banking to which we advise them to call their account officer for further clarification.

More radio Programs and women’s meetings

February 4, 2010

06/09/09

The presenter starts the show with a brief recap of last week’s episode. The chairman of the local government area of our project location (Chikun LGA), is one of the first people to call in to appreciate the sponsors of the program and to encourage Gbagyi women claiming that it is on record that every registered cooperative was given their allocation of farm inputs at very subsidized rates and he would make sure that in the coming year, registered women farmers are not left out.  Mr. Danjuma, a caller beckons on the chairman or other individuals and organizations to keep the show running after this season because it has been very useful to both men and women. The presenter apologizes to his listeners about not being able to continue on cooperatives and banking for now but gives the phone numbers and addresses of micro finance banks for farmers to get in touch. Moving to the heart of today’s show, Musa our host presenter gets his listeners to define a man and a woman.  Callers define women as mothers, home makers, wives and helpers to the man. The listeners also define men as provider s, family men, breadwinners, farmers. The presenter agrees with them, calling these definitions traditional roles that women and men have been known to play over the years. He says however, that many of these roles are changing. He uses himself as an example; how his wife has paid the fees of their children on several occasions. Does that make her a man? More men call in and say that actually, women do a lot as helpers. Mr. Zakaria Abashe, who has been a guest expert on some episodes of the show, calls in and says that many women have taken up the roles of men but instead of being appreciated, the men take the glory and he calls this a form of oppression. A lady, Mrs. Rifkatu from our listeners club illustrates how she wakes up very early, goes to pack yashi (digging up sand from the river bed for sale), gets the children ready for school, uses the money she makes to buy ingredients for soup and the husband will just come home and eat without asking where she got money from or even appreciate any of her efforts. She, Rifkatu says she has wanted to buy a phone for herself but cannot even do so because all of her money goes to the household. Talking about phones, the presenter, Musa, wonders why men are the ones who own radio sets, phones and any other visible asset. A caller responds that it is because the man earns money for the house and women are troublesome so getting them handsets is like asking for trouble. Mr. Zakaria calls back and rebukes the previous caller; saying that women must be supported in using things like hand sets so that they would not be left behind as the world advances. The debate goes on and on and finally, Musa tells his listeners that it is important for the men to appreciate the hours and work that women dedicate to their families. Therefore, men must treat women as equals by ensuring that the work load is not over whelming. Men should pay more attention to the financial responsibilities that the woman is left to and not see the money women earn as “pocket money” for the house. Men, he said have to stand by their women and make sure that her ability to develop is not suppressed. He concluded by saying that men should not see technological devices as necessary for men alone but they should assist their wives in acquiring and using phones and radios effectively.

After the show, our women were excited and expressed hope that their voices will make a difference.

Women’s meeting radio series

February 4, 2010

02/08/09

Radio Program No. 4

Today as has become the norm nowadays, the women are all seated on our arrival. We notice a few unfamiliar faces and a little undercurrent of tension.

Just a s soon as we are

settled, the women’s coordinator, Lami explains to us in Hausa that some women in the village are displeased because they were not duly informed when the listeners club started. As such, they are not registered members of

the cooperative society that was formed from the listeners club even though they were willing to partake in the activities from the start.

Several of the “unfamiliar” new women state their case and after a short while, we step in and explain that the program is open to everyone to benefit from and they are invited to listen up to the radio program and benefit from the information, or call in to contribute comments, ask questions or whatever.

Among themselves, the women of both parties (listeners club women and the others) reach a consensus that some of the funds they gather from their collective contributions will be used to register the women who have not been registered already.

By 2:30pm, the radio program starts. Using a script from Farm Radio International’s web site as a resource, the presenter explains how the women can prepare compost manure for use on their gardens or farms.

Several calls and 30 minutes later, the show ends with a promise by the presenter to say some more on the issue of organic and inorganic fertilizers.

From our baseline research, Soil fertility and fertilizer, (availability, affordability, authenticity, how to use) were major concerns of both women and men small holder farmers alike. As a result we intend to run 3 more episodes in order to cover the topic sufficiently.

09/08/09

Radio Program no. 5

After the last radio show, we were opportuned to meet a Gbagyi man, Zakaria Abashe, an expert on agro chemicals who also specializes in preparing compost manure and other chemicals used on farms. He is the perfect guest as he will speak directly in the language of the broadcast without need for a translator. As guest expert on today’s show, Zakaria educates the women on how to prepare organic fertilizer and the correct application of fertilizers on different crops.

The host presenter, Musa, introduces him and chats with him about the use of compost on the farm.  They both opined that  all things considered, organic manure, is a better way to preserve soil fertility. The host encourages his listeners to try to depend more on compost manure and reminds them to decompose their organic matter and animal dung in a pit in order to make manure. Various callers agree that compost manure is very fertile for the soil and they encourage their kinsmen to use more of it. One caller also speaks about arrangements that they make with Fulani herdsmen so that they can collect animal dung but he says that it is not sufficient for all their farming activities. Another lady, Christy makes a point that several of them, women, rear pigs so most of their leaves and organic garbage is used to feed these animals. The expert encourages the women to stay open to information by listening to the radio and communicating with experts because they can build their knowledge base and learn more profitable ways of managing the issues they are presented with as the experts learn more and pass it on. The presenters chat about how communication technology has advanced and how much information is out there. The presenter, Musa mentions as an example that the scripts he has been using for the radio programs have been sourced from the internet. He tells the women in the village to be open to these advances in information technology because technology has the power to improve their livelihoods and make farming more fulfilling. He further encourages them to keep in constant touch the state’s agricultural development program and also promises to give the number of the guest expert for further information.

A few men also call to voice their appreciation and appeal to prominent Gbagyi people to sponsor another program for Gbagyi farmers after this one.

Our women partners are able to make a few calls only because the phone calls coming in today from various parts of Kaduna and the neighbouring states are even more. At the end of the show however, the presenter asks the permission of the expert to give out his phone number to listeners including the project women listeners’ clubs for more information. Zakaria graciously agrees and the program was hardly over before he receives several calls from all over and from our women so he answers a few more questions of theirs.

The listeners club, so far, still meets without any push from us; sometimes the women are up to 40; at other times there are in the 20s. Not many of them seem to have purchased radios or cell phones of their own although yet despite the attractiveness of the two media to them. Two women have so far purchased individual cell phone handsets.

Even though the men don’t listen to the program together in their club I get more questions from them on my routine visits to the village. The women would seem happy to see you but they are always in a hurry to get to somewhere else so there is not enough time for much chit chat. The men, on the other hand keep asking questions about the program. On market days when visitors come from neighboring villages, they seem to pass on the information very quickly in my presence. They ask what the program is about and they promise to tune in and contribute if they can.

The biggest challenge still lies in the limited mobile network coverage.

16/08/09

Radio Program no. 6 and Listeners’ club activities

Last week, a few listeners asked questions on access and use of farm inputs such as improved seed varieties, herbicides and pesticides for storage. The presenter had advised that they tune in today to get answers to their questions. So today, The guest expert, Mr. Zakaria, an agro- chemical expert, informs listeners to be very careful when using chemicals on the farm . He pronounces that such practices must be undertaken with careful and detailed directions from agricultural experts. The guest expert asks interested parties to give him a call or visit his office for further enquiries. A regular listener and caller on the show, Mr. Sunday, narrates how he lost a bumper harvest due to wrong application of fertilizer. The host presenter gives the number of the expert and encourages listeners to get useful tips on improved farming practices from extension workers in their local government and from the state’s agricultural development program. Both presenters (host and expert) chat about the implications of over reliance on chemicals and the expert says that if used well, minimal pollution could be attained. The next caller, Hannatu Yusuf agrees with the presenter, saying that she uses dried pepper to store her beans and pleads with the presenters to give them more tips on cheaper and safer ways to store grains. Larai Kantoma, also from the listeners club, reminds listeners of different times when food crops have been known to wipe out the masses in Nigeria. She encourages farmers to use spices like garlic to store their food crops.

The host presenter speaks about how relevant mobile phones could be in passing on relevant information as well as sourcing for it. He encourages women (with particular reference to the women at Gwagwada) to make regular calls to Kaduna Agricultural Development program where he says they would be offered regular and useful tips.

Once more, both presenters chat on how nowadays, text messaging is used to send very regular updates to subscribed users in various fields. The expert, Mr. Zakaria declares that it is only a matter of time and a short one at that before this would be a very common practice in farming in Nigeria. He admonishes Gbagyi women not to lag behind because of their roles as women and he encourages men in various communities to support women’s development because women are much more than just “property”.

The presenter picks his final call from Mr. Usman who begs the presenter to replay the music he played earlier on about honouring women and dedicates the song to his wife.

Every week, more and more listeners seem to tune in to the program. We get more calls from people appreciating the program, others asking what is been discussed because they missed an episode or just tuned in for the first time. Our women at Gwagwada, are also ardent listeners although the not so good network signal doesn’t always allow their voices to be heard as much as they or we would like.

As for the phone, the women report that they are not making as many business calls as they had hoped because more and more people seem to be getting phones but they are able to generate a little income from the few calls they make. The treasurer gives account and they authorize that the income be added to their stipend as collective savings.

Women farmers use mobile phones to interact with a radio program in Kaduna. Episode 3

February 3, 2010

17/08/09

Last week, the sole administrator promised to get a radio for our women at Gwagwada and true to his word, a brand new small transistor radio was provided for the women who were all seated at their favourite meeting spot under the mango tree. This time though to be sure, two women brought a radio each from home as well and with a little help from each other, the women tuned the radios and listened to the program. This week, the radio episode centred on women farmers’ access (or lack of) to fertilizer. Our women were excited to hear their voices in the pre-recorded inserts played back within the program. Three women from this group successfully phoned into the radio station within the 30 minute program duration. Making calls to “The Women’s Meeting Place” radio program has actually become so competitive as women as well as men jostle to call in to ask questions or just to express an opinion.  In deed, the radio presenter gets calls from Gbagyi people from neighbouring states. The program ended with an assurance by the presenter that practical solutions will be proffered with regards to fertilizer accessibility and application in the next episode of the program.

Three weeks into the program and the women are very much into the listeners club. We earnestly hope they would not be deterred and that the magazine program will indeed, improve the livelihoods of these women farmers.

We try to offer them quality and usable information by using scripts available on the Farm Radio Network website as well as consulting with local experts.

Women Farmers’ Meeting: an interactive radio program in Kaduna state, Nigeria

February 3, 2010

19/07/09

The second Episode of the radio program: Topic of Discussion is still water problem

Today, Sunday July 20, 2009 is the day scheduled for the second episode of our radio program, “Women farmers’ Meeting” but disaster seems to have struck the radio sets in Gwagwada.  OKAY, all the women members of the listeners’ club are seated by 01.30pm; a whole hour before the program’s commencement, being that the general meeting of the newly-formed cooperative society/radio listeners’ club is scheduled to hold on Sundays. However, we notice something amiss. No one had brought a radio! We had talked about purchasing a radio set for the listeners’ clubs but the community members had told us there was no need as they all owned a radio at home and can easily bring one to the meetings.  We ask the president why they haven’t brought a radio and she tells some funny story. In order not to waste time, we rush from underneath our mango tree meeting place and into the house of the sole administrator, which is close by. As always, he seems happy to see us and delivers the sad news that someone took his radio two days ago and he is yet to replace it. So his wife goes to ask the pastor and comes back with a radio that wouldn’t power on. By now, it is 2:10p.m, 20 minutes to program start.  In our desperation, we try to tune the radio in the taxi we came in but the sound is not clear. Just at the nick of time, I mean, just as the program is getting started, a very quiet, unassuming lady in the group returns with a radio and it works! Halleluiah! All the women rush close to the entrance of the sole administrator’s parlour and we all listen to the radio program and several women pay for airtime and take turns to phone in make their voices heard, making contributions to the discussions or asking questions.

Listeners' club member using a cell phone to call the live radio broadcast

A listeners’ club member phoning the radio station during the live broadcast.

After the program is ended, we realize why these women did not bring a radio to the meeting. They couldn’t have.  Apparently, the radios in their households belong to the husbands who had decided they wanted to listen to the program themselves in their various homes.  The sole administrator saves the day and all the subsequent shows by publicly promising to buy the women a radio before next Sunday and from what we now know of our women, they will definitely hold him to his promise.

Christy Sunday: a member of the listeners club filming the event.

Today has been a good day. We chat with the women for several minutes after the radio show ends and also record some of their opinions which we plan to air next week.  During the chat, the women discuss and ask for clarification on some issues.  They go as far as asking questions about soft loans from the micro finance bank and we assure them that in three weeks time, an experts on that topic (a Gbagyi-speaking guest) would be in the studio during the program to educate them on how to go about obtaining loan facilities and they would then have the opportunity to call in and ask questions. Everyone was excited and pleased that the listener’s club held in spite of the lack of a radio at the start of the meeting.

It’s Christy’s turn today to film the Listeners’ club’s meeting proceedings.

The topic of radio program today, was Water Management and Irrigation Farming. Once again, we got the appropriate scripts from the Farm Radio International’s web-site (www.farmradio.org).  The chairman of the local government also spoke to the women on the plans the government is making to assist the women.

We’ll be back next week with more report after the radio show!

Data, Seember and Binta

RADIO SERIES second episode

September 7, 2009

20/07/09

radio genardis listeners club 046

Today, Sunday July 20, 2009 is the day scheduled for the second episode of our radio program, “Women farmers’ Meeting” but disaster seems to have struck the radio sets in Gwagwada.  OKAY, all the women members of the listeners’ club are seated by 01.30pm; a whole hour before the broadcast! Imagine that! Sundays also happen to be the meeting days for the newly-formed cooperative society/radio listeners’ club so everything is looking good. Then, we notice something a little off. No one seems to have brought a radio! We had talked about purchasing a radio set for the listeners’ clubs but the community members had assured us that there was no need since everyone has a radio at home which can easily be borrowed on meeting days.  We ask the president why they haven’t brought a radio and she tells us a funny story. In order not to waste time, we rush from underneath our mango tree meeting place and into the house of the sole administrator, which is close by. As always, he is happy to see us but delivers the sad news that someone took his radio two days ago and he is yet to replace it. So his wife goes to ask the pastor and comes back with a radio that wouldn’t power on. By now, it is 2:10p.m, 20 minutes to program start.  In our desperation, we try to tune the radio in the taxi we came in but the sound is not clear. Just at the nick of time, I mean, just as the program is getting started, a very quiet, unassuming lady in the group returns with a radio and it works! Halleluiah! All the women rush close to the entrance of the sole administrator’s parlour and we all listen to the radio program and several women pay for airtime and take turns to phone in to make their voices heard, making contributions to the discussions or asking questions.

Listeners' club member using a cell phone to call the live radio broadcastA listeners’ club member phoning the radio station during the live broadcast.

 

 

 

 

 

After the program is ended, we realize why these women did not bring a radio to the meeting. Apparently their husbands had commandeered the radios in order to listen to the program in their various homes.  The sole administrator saves the day and subsequent shows by publicly promising to buy the women a radio before next Sunday and from what we now know of our women, they will definitely hold him to his promise.

Christy Sunday, a member of the Listeners' club filming a meetingChristy Sunday: a member of the listeners club filming the event.

Today has been a good day. We chat with the women for several minutes after the radio show ends and also record some of their opinions which we plan to air next week.  During the chat, the women discuss and ask for clarification on some issues.  They go as far as asking questions about soft loans from the micro finance bank and we assure them that in three weeks time, an expert on that topic (a Gbagyi-speaking guest) would be in the studio during the program to educate them on how to go about obtaining loan facilities and they would then have the opportunity to call in and ask questions. Everyone was excited and pleased that the listener’s club held in spite of the lack of a radio at the start of the meeting.

 It's Christy's turn to film the listeners' club proceedings today

It’s Christy’s turn today to film the Listeners’ club’s meeting proceedings.

The topic of radio program today, was Water Management and Irrigation Farming. Once again, we got the relevant scripts from the Farm Radio International’s web-site (www.farmradio.org).  The chairman of the local government also spoke to the women on the plans the government has to assist women.  

We’ll be back next week with more reports after the radio show!

Data, Seember and Binta


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