Harman local radio in Barzan area as Voice for change
Communication is no longer seen as a one way, top-down transfer of messages and information through the media. Instead, when applied to development, communication is used to promote a two-way process of sharing and participation. The experts at the FAO indicated that, “People-oriented and sustainable development can only realize its full potential if rural people are involved and motivated and if information and knowledge is shared. Sharing is not a one-way transfer of information; it rather implies an exchange between communications of equals. On the one hand, technical specialists learn about people's needs and their techniques of production. On the other, the people learn about the techniques and proposals from the specialists” (FAO, 2004:9-10). “This means that participatory communication efforts with rural women should begin with development planners and technical specialists listening to them. Listening goes beyond a simple appraisal of needs. It involves listening to what women already know, what they aspire to become, what they perceive as possible and desirable and what they feel they can sustain. Although often illiterate, rural women have wisdom, knowledge and practices based on deeprooted cultural norms, traditions and values, as well as generations of experience. This indigenous knowledge should be taken into account, and traditional methods of information exchange and communication should be harnessed together with modern means” (ibid).
Previously in the Kurdistan society, the main source of information for women in rural areas was at water sources and other tradi- tional ceremonies ‘Women from spring water platform during fetching water to the local radio platform’. They had the opportunity to discuss various issues at these places. Women could exchange information while fetching water and at other traditional ceremonies. However mass media, especially the radio, is the current means of exchanging information. Harman radio is the most powerful mass media in the Barzan area, and also an important source of information especially in Shri village, because there is no access to television there.
Local radio is the main media for reaching many people in the Barzan area, even in the remotest villages, since they have access to local radio, which builds on the oral traditions of Barzan populations. Although men own the majority of radio receivers, women can lis- ten to programmes at home. Harman radio is an important tool for the diffusion of messages on new ideas and techniques as well as on health, nutrition, family planning and other social and cultural issues. The Harman radio was used for training and the transfer of new ideas about women’s rights and attempted to change the attitude of communities about the role of women.
During the field work on 2th May 2007 at Harman institution the researcher observed that there was a program for training people who work in the media. The training programme was organized in cooperation with the Association of Newspapers without Borders, and the number of participants was 24 trainers, 10 of them being females and 14 males. This was clear evidence of the importance of the participation of females in the Barzan area in capacitybuilding as a starting point towards participation in decision-making and towards enhanced development.
Local radio can promote dialogue and debate on major issues of rural development as well as provide a platform for the expression of rural women’s needs, opinions and aspirations. Radio enables women to voice their concerns and speak about their aspirations with Barzan policy-makers and development planners. Finally, Harman radio is a vital tool that can be used to develop community cohesion, solidarity and changing attitudes about women. The researcher observed that the community has successfully used the Harman radio especially the rural population of Barzan area.
Harman radio programmes are most effective since it is produced with audience participation both female and male, in the local language and with consideration for the cultural traditions of the Barzan tribe. It seems that Harman radio is an important channel for motivation and education of women since it raises consciousness of gender issues as well as informing women about their rights. It offers women in the Barzan area to tune in to many issues that interest them. More and more young women are receiving training in the programming and management of community-based radio so that the programmes can reflect their real needs.