Claiming the power of radio for women in Tonga

  on January 21, 2014

Fasi, Nukualofa, Tonga

April 6, 2011

"Community radio is the bridge from the mat to the policy makers" said FemLINKPACIFIC’s Community Radio Adviser, Shirley Tagi.

She was speaking in the session “Claiming the Power of Radio” at the first women-led community radio consultation hosted by Ma’afafine moe Famili in Tonga today: “Community radio is an opportunity to talk about taboo issues. It is for the community and by the community,” she stressed to the 20 participants from government departments, civil society and women’s groups, highlighting that community radio is an opportunity to talk about issues without the limitations of the public service and commercial formats.

The consultation was officially opened by the First Lady of Tonga, Joyce Robin Kaho, a former broadcast spectrum regulator who noted that this was the first women’s led community radio consultation in Tonga hosted today by Ma’afafine moe Famili and FemLINKPACIFIC, partners in the regional women’s media and policy network on UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

"I am especially pleased to see the collaboration across the Pacific women’s movement in particular amongst a network of women committed to enhancing women’s participation in decision making for peace and development. The community radio station, which I understand has been an innovative approach to using radio in Fiji to reach women in rural communities and empower young women as producers and broadcasters, comes at a time when we need to raise the level of participation of our women and young women in decision making forums from the community to the national level. I am glad to hear that Ma’afafine is planning to also develop a rural women’s media and communication network based on the model of FemLINKPACIFIC in Fiji."

Community radio she stressed has the power to empower: “…To enable women and girls, young women and men, who feel marginalized or who would like to be part of defining their future a platform to develop their ideas, to speak purposefully yet creatively and to above all develop and achieve their leadership potential through a media channel which is deeply grounded in their community values yet one which also gives them the space to use technology in a positive and enriching way.”

Katalina Tohi of Broadcom the operators of a commercial FM89.5 station based in Nukuaofa talked about the community radio model they have developed for their radio station including talk back, relying mainly on people’s access to telephone. It is a community based radio station with a commercial window to support our operations. This is an exciting development for Tonga, the more radios you have the more voices you can hear.”

Speaking on the importance of radio in his community, Viliame Faleakono the Pacific President of the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) noted the importance of building communication rights for gender justice, peace, and other issues of priority to the global movement supporting communication innovations. There are many radio stations, radio is able to go out to communities and also reach people on their mobile phones.

"...information builds or develops a person’s identity and radio has the potential to tell stories of the different “stations” of the community - from the family to the church, the peer group and the nation. However, radio must be used wisely because of its potential to influence either positively or negatively."

In the presentation on the FemLINKPACIFIC Community Radio Experience since 2003, FemLINKPACIFIC’s Executive Director stressed that the community radio project is a platform for communicating a culture of peace.

Ma'afafine moe Famili coordinated the 2010 GMMP in Tonga while FemLINKPACIFIC is the GMMP Pacific region coordinator since 2005.

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January 21, 2014
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