IAWRT decided in 2018 to add a new action area to its portfolio in support of its overall a mission to strengthen initiatives towards ensuring women’s views and values are integral part of programming and to advance the impact of women in media. The new committee will focus on extending the IAWRT mission to women and girls living in rural areas of the global South.
The committee’s preliminary working objective is to “amplify rural women’s voices through their innovative use of communication and media for a visible and empowered presence on communication and media platforms, setting their own agenda, fighting for their rights”.
Extending socio-economic development through social media and radio in Western Kenya
A pilot project has been initiated by the Committee with The Blue Light Star Women’s Group, based in Ndivisi village, in Bungoma County of Western Kenya. The group is a highly respected grassroots group due to their success with savings and credit Cooperatives, dairy and poultry projects and recently branching into establishing a common market for all their products to increase income for the participating women by cutting off the middle men (see more detail including history and context here).
The IAWRT Kenya chapter will facilitate the process, through coordination, training and any other support needed. Josephine Karani, Chair of the IAWRT Kenya Chapter and Racheal Nakitare, former president of IAWRT International will lead the work.
First smart phones – to share stories of empowerment and change
IAWRT Kenya has identified the Blue Light Star Women’s Group and its gap in terms of access to and use of media and social communication platforms. This can strengthen their socio-economic activities and action-range through amplification of their voices, including through lobbying the government on issues that affect the women and children in their community. At the same time, the Blue Light Star Women’s Group were found to be yearning for a platform to share their success stories, which could inspire others to engage in similar activities for better quality lives.
IAWRT Kenya in partnership with the Committee on Rural Women and Media will equip the group with smart phones, internet access and the skills to engage on both traditional and social media, where the women have the chance to share their success stories with others, and to embrace the use of technology for economic as well as social and political development.
Aside from the immediate usefulness for the Blue Light Star Women’s Group, they also see their engagement with this pilot project as a way to begin to be able to access and navigate the E-government services whIch Kenya is making available for applying for passports, driver’s license, ID’s and other documents. How are they able to access all of this if they don’t have the requisite knowledge? How will they participate in agitating for their rights if they cannot reach the leaders? This project will give them the voice through radio and social media platforms.