DISCOURSE & DEBATE
The Research programme will explore women’s uses of technology with an eye to increasing and improving the scope of use for social and economic empowerment.
W.TEC’s most recent research project was the Radio for Women’s Development (2010 – 2012).
1. ‘Radio for Women’s Development: Examining the Relationship between Access and Impact’ (Case Study)
This project was funded by the International Development Research Center (IDRC)and administered by Carleton University, Canada.
Research shows that information and communication technology have the potential to improve women’s quality of life, but much of this potential is unfulfilled due to many factors, including prohibitive cost of access and little to no skill, knowledge and motivation to use these tools. Radio, meanwhile, has traditionally been a more accessible tool for women than many other ICTs – especially within an African context – due to cheaper costs, less dependence on electricity and literacy, and the ability to provide information in local languages.
This article, which highlights the findings of the ‘Radio for Women’s Development’ project, explores if the accessibility of radio has led to any tangible socio-economic changes in the lives of three distinct groups of Nigerian women: university and polytechnic students, self-employed business women, and stay-at-home-wives and/or mothers. It also explores the degree and nature of this access by examining how these women are accessing radio content and if their radio listenership and engagement is influenced by the convergence of Internet-based new media with the radio.
Using questionnaires and focus group interviews, the project sought to find out if women’s lives are being impacted as a result of their use and engagement with radio; find out whether and/or how the women are applying the radio content into their daily lives; and find out whether and/or how Nigerian women are accessing and engaging with radio – particularly using other technologies like mobile phones and the Internet.
Through this project, the team aimed to influence the programming of Nigerian radio stations, particularly those focused on women’s issues, by providing more accurate information about what types of content women seek and if convergence with ICT can enable the stations better engage with their women listeners.