Radio provides communications for poor Indian women

In the hot and arid countryside of Andhra Pradesh, T Manjula goes from house to house checking the year’s harvest. Born on the fringes of Indian society, she has fought her way up through hard work and guts.

A volunteer with the Deccan Development Society (DDS), she now tries to help other poor women, most of whom are Dalits, the lowest group in the Indian social hierarchy.

But while food distribution is a vital part of what she does, Manjula is more excited about her role as a radio journalist. And it is in this job that she thinks she can really make a difference.

The local radio station has a state-of-the-art studio in a very ordinary looking house in Pastapur, 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Hyderabad.

Its daily two-hour broadcasts are peppered with small tidbits on farming, medicine, health and music

“It’s a great way for us to document all the local knowledge that otherwise would have just remained within families,” she explains. “Many people have benefited because of this and everyday I am learning something new as well.”

In fact the community radio concept has caught on so well that many women from the village have become regular contributors.

For many of the audience it is a bit of entertainment, for the women involved it is a lot more than that. It is a means of asserting themselves in this rural setting, of finding a voice and putting themselves in greater control of their own destiny.


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