by Sheryl Ho

Twenty-five young women from seven countries in the Asia-Pacific region, gathered in Bangalore, India for the 2nd Assembly of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) Asia-Pacific in Feburary; following the week-long Women Making Airwaves for Peace (WMAP) workshop organised by Isis International in Mysore, India. With friendships and networks formed, the young women not only brought gender balance to what would have been a male-dominated conference but also participated in this all important conference of community radio practitioners.

AMARC rallies a global membership of more than 6,000 in a call to uphold and celebrate the freedom of opinion and expression in community radio broadcasting. The WMAP workshop was organised as one of the many pre-events for the AMARC conference.

Parul Gupta from India said that as a participant, she felt empowered as the conference had given her space of free expression of ideas and provided her the opportunity to be a part of the “Gender Policy on Community Radio”.

Pramila Manandhar from Nepal said the conference allowed for the exchange of ideas, views and cultures among the participants and provided the opportunity for professional growth. The conference also opened her eyes to different situations worldwide on strict government policies towards community radios.

Voted in embracing the principle of gender parity, representatives from the 20 countries in the Asia-Pacific region gave their mandate to two lesbians, Maica Lagman as Deputy President and Bianca Miglioretto as Women's International Network (AMARC-WIN) Vice President.

Undaunted by colleagues' view of her as young and lacking in experience for an international organisation, the resounding endorsement of the LGBT (Lesbian, and Gays, Bi-sexuals and Transgender) leadership had come as a surprise to Lagman in an assembly of about 200 delegates composed mostly of men and where she contested for the position with a male candidate. Lagman with high spirit took the leadership challenge.

Ashis Sen of India, President for Asia-Pacific and Steve Buckley of Canada, the International President both welcomed the leadership of Lagman and Miglioretto.

Speaking on her re-appointment, Miglioretto said “As the Vice President for WIN, I had to realise no matter how much some men verbally support gender equality, very few men are willing to give way to women when it comes to occuping leadership positions or participate in seminars, conferences or trainings...that is why women need to be empowered to compete with men.”

“AMARC Asia Pacific definitively needs to do more affirmative action to strengthen women within the community radio movement and within the individual radio stations. We need leadership training and trainers training for women so that they are well equipped to assume leadership positions and become trainers.” Miglioretto continued to say.

Two years ago, Miglioretto played a leading role in crafting the Gender Policy for Community Radio. The policy was delivered to the public to impart a meaningful celebration of the International Day of Women on 8 March. This year, as the world celebrated the International Day of Women, the voice of this gender policy, articulated in 15 languages of Asia and the Pacific, reverberates in the various communities of Asia and the Pacific.

She said that while the Gender Policy for Community Radio is a very important tool towards implementing gender equality in the individual stations, more work to be done is still needed.

“Too easy it is for a radio station to adopt the policy and then put it into a drawer and forget about it. We need to conduct training and develop tools on how to implement the policy in the daily operations of the radio.”

Source:

Two Women with Rainbow Banners Pilot the Airwaves to Greater Heights” from Bulatlat.com, posted on March 8, 2010.

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