First community radio station run by women

Posted on June 25, 2009


June 26 2009

AHMEDABAD: One of Gujarat’s biggest Women-based NGO, SEWA, will be first to run a community radio

station (CRS) exclusively by women, as Information & Broadcasting Ministry has granted permission to Mahila SEWA Trust for establishing a radio station.

SEWA, which is into radio programme production for last four years, will have its own radio station with a 10-km radius. However, the NGO has decided to keep its base at its training centre at Manipur village in Sanand taluka. “We always wanted to have a rural base for our communication activities. Through this community radio, besides catering to the needs of farmers, we will be broadcasting information for SEWA members and information will be used for their own education and empowerment,” said SEWA director, Reema Nanavati.

The programmes broadcast from this station will cover nearly 30 villages in Sanand and Daskroi talukas. “It’s good to see that we have first radio station to be managed by women to help our members for livelihood and capacity building,” Nanavati said.

According to the grant of permission agreement signed by SEWA with the ministry, CRS is expected to be operational within three months. With setting up of CRS near city, the number of CRS will increase to 49 in the country. The Anna University in Chennai was the first campus to have a CRS in 2003 and Centre gave relaxation in granting licenses for CRS to non-educational organisation particularly after tsunami struck southern coast of India.

SEWA has been broadcasting a 15-minute weekly programme from All India Radio stations with a title Rudi no Radio’. Namrata Bali, who looks after SEWA’s radio programming believes that managing a CRS is going to be a challenge for the organisation. But, the NGO’s practice in production during these years will come handy, as its volunteers have already made need assessment survey, which was submitted to the ministry.

“Because the transmitter and work station will be situated at our training centre, we have an opportunity to rope in women and local youth that work with us. Besides this, our radio team has already prepared a base for CRS and we will try to involve as many people as possible to cater to the listening needs of audience from various occupation and different age groups,” Bali said.

SEWA estimates the cost of setting up broadcasting facility at Rs 6 lakh and production facilities will also cost NGO the same amount. A Canada-based organisation AMARC is helping SEWA in establishing the facilities as well as in generating software.