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Communication and Information Sector's news service

Marie Finds her Voice

08-03-2005 (Paris)
Marie Ekaney, mother of five and presenter at the local community radio station, enjoys her new status as a star. She knows her work is benefiting other women in the Saharan village of Ingall, Niger.
Until she volunteered as an on-air presenter, Marie’s daily routine was the same as that of any other Touareg mother. But when the station was launched, she didn’t hesitate to break with tradition. "I wanted to help develop my village," she explains. "My sister and mother-in-law look after the children while I prepare my programmes and go on air."

Each week, Marie spends four days preparing her three half-hour programmes on women’s issues. She conducts interviews in Tamacheq on health and family matters and gets the village women talking about their income-generating activities such as traditional mat weaving.

Marie often turns to the older women for answers to difficult questions. But a village without clean water, sanitation, electricity, or any other basic infrastructures, also needs outside expertise. Community radio is an effective way for the locals to exchange important information with development experts.

UNDP helped launch the first solar-powered rural radios in Niger in response to the strong demand by village women for better information and communication. Now, UNESCO is helping expand the network to 150 solar radio stations and is developing training and programme materials in local languages.

The new access to information is working. Radio programmes provided by UNICEF and UNFPA and their partners are having an impact. A message about the dangers of drinking dirty water led to dozens of families collecting and using water filters in one village. In another, after an announcement about polio, the number of children vaccinated at the local clinic went up sharply.

Marie is lucky her husband supports her whole-heartedly. "When their mother comes on air, the children get really excited and even before she’s back home, there is always a crowd of neighbourhood women in our yard wanting to ask her questions about the programme", he says proudly.

(Source: The UN Works)
Related themes/countries

      · Gender and ICT: News Archives 2005
      · Niger: News Archive
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