Taking gender into account at your radio station is important because problems related to gender inequality touch all aspects of life and affect everyone— both women and men. As you strive for gender equality in your radio programs, you should also work to ensure that your station’s practices and work environment reflect gender equality as well. Women are often under-represented in radio stations in sub-Saharan Africa. The few women who are involved rarely have the power to make decisions, and face barriers that men do not. Everything the station does should both express and act on the idea that people have equal rights and should have equal opportunities regardless of their gender.
There are many ways to integrate gender equality into the way your station operates. Making these changes can help to ensure that your programs serve your listeners well and that your women staff have equal status and opportunity to contribute to your station.
This is a self-assessment tool to evaluate gender equality in the practices and work environment of your station. This tool will help you understand how your radio station works (or does not yet work) toward gender equality in the way that it operates, and help you make a plan to improve. This should be an all-station activity to ensure feedback is received from all areas of the organization, which means you will need the support of station management. Make a commitment as a station to use the tool, to make an action plan, and to return to the tool in the future to measure your station’s progress over time. You may find that your plan needs to change as your practices, staff and business evolve.
The ultimate aim of the tool is to begin a long-term process of learning and improvement at your station, so be as honest as possible with your answers. If your station seems to “score poorly,” do not be discouraged. This tool is only the first step in a long process of understanding gender equality at your radio station and making a plan to improve over time. At the same time, if your station seems to “score well,” remember that there is always room for improvement. The true strength of your station lies in your commitment to improving, not in your initial score. Review your facilitation efforts and how you can better draw out critiques and honesty that will identify areas for improvement.
Download the full document, including instructions and areas of assessment.
Download the areas for assessment.
Download the action plan instructions.
The next five pages describe the process. We then share the Areas of Assessment, which will help you with the assessment, and information for scoring and creating an action plan. When you have completed the self-assessment, let us know. You can share your score (Template to map score) with us at email@example.com or by sending it to your networking officer.
Overview of areas for assessment
This self-assessment is a collaborative activity for your radio staff to complete together, where you will evaluate your station's progress on six questions.
Your results will be mapped into a spider web-like shape, where each axis of this “spider web” represents one of the six following questions that you will address in the assessment.
Axis 1: What is the level of involvement of women in the positions of power / decision-making at your radio station?
Axis 2: What is the level of involvement of women in decision-making processes or program planning?
Axis 3: Do the programs at your radio station take gender equality issues into account?
Axis 4: Do managers, technicians, presenters, administrative staff at the station have knowledge and/or training on gender equality?
Axis 5: Do women and men working at your radio station have a safe and inclusive work environment that benefits everybody based on their distinct needs?
Axis 6: Do the strategies and working principles of station management take gender equality into account?
How to use the self-assessment
As a station, commit to completing the assessment every six to 12 months, and well into the future. Repeating the assessment will demonstrate the way that your station evolves over time, and will help you to revisit and improve your action plan each time.
Who is involved?
It is recommended that this self-assessment be completed as part of an all- staff meeting, with managers, directors, broadcasters, producers, those working in marketing, and other roles at the station.
How is the assessment done?
- Meet for at least three hours to discuss the six questions.
- The facilitator (identified in advance) should prepare to lead the staff through the questions, one at a time.
- Note down the final score for all six questions, and draw a dot on the spider web in the corresponding place.
Each axis has several indicators. As a group, decide on a score for each indicator, and an overall score for the whole axis (question). This can be an average of the scores on the indicators, or just wherever you decide, as a group, your score for that axis should be.
The results of this self-assessment will highlight both areas of strength and areas for improvement at your station. Use this scoring guide to help you analyze the results of your self-assessment and plan your action items accordingly
Creating an action plan
Once you have completed the evaluation, create an action plan based on your scoring. Recommended next steps are included in this document.
Score 1-2: Create. Axes that score one to two points are areas most in need of improvement at your station. Perhaps these are new for your station, and your team needs to start right from the beginning to create new policies and practices. When creating your action plan, these areas should be prioritized as they may require long-term planning and a significant amount of staff time.
Score 3: Improve. Axes that score three points are a middle ground. Your station may already have policies and practices in these areas, but there is still room for improvement. When creating your action plan, consider what actions could make these areas stronger, more effective, and more inclusive.
Score 4: Influence. Axes that score four points are areas of strength for your station. Your policies and practices in these areas are strong and effective. You may be able to use these areas to positively influence areas for improvement.
Key terms in gender equality
Gender norms : Refers to the social norms about how men and women should be and act. These socially-constructed roles and responsibilities of men and women, their expected behaviours and attitudes in a given culture are learned and internalized early in life. These norms are something that we can change over time and can be different depending on where you are in the world.
Sex : Refers to being of male or female, in the physiological sense. This includes physical body parts, secondary sex characteristics like body hair and hormones, etc.
Gender equality : Women and men, girls and boys enjoy the same status and have equal opportunity to realize their full human rights and potential to contribute to national, political, economic, social and cultural development, and to benefit from the results.
Gender stereotypes : These are the entrenched attitudes and assumptions that lead to limited, generalized opinions and treatment of people based on their gender.
Advice for facilitators
At least one week before you complete the self-assessment:
- Inform all staff of the purpose of the meeting, time and place to meet. Ask staff to begin thinking about their experiences and opinions of your radio station as a workplace, specifically with regards to gender equality. Send your staff each a copy of the tables to guide their reflection.
- Share this resource with staff and management so they can prepare by becoming more familiar with the concepts in this self-assessment, some of which may be new or challenge some ways that your station currently operates. Follow up to see if they have any questions, or if they want to discuss. This preparation could be important for management especially, who should be ready to support staff in completing the self-assessment and in implementing an action plan
- Prepare your materials. If you will meet with staff in person, draw the spider web onto a large piece of paper, and have markers ready to note the answers. Print out copies of the Areas for Assessment, so that staff can follow along during the activity.
- Decide what type of help you need and ask your fellow staff to support you, explaining to them in advance what you want them to do. You may decide to facilitate the self-assessment alone, or with another staff member. You might also find it useful to ask someone to take notes during the conversation to refer to again in the future, or to keep time and keep you on track.
- Decide what measures are necessary to allow women to participate freely and comfortably. Take considerations for this activity as you would for your radio programming, and consult women staff to see what they need and want
Ensuring women staff are willing and comfortable to participate
In order for this assessment to work, the women staff at your station must be involved, and must feel comfortable to share their honest opinions about working at your radio station. So, before you start the self-assessment, here are some tips to help you ensure that your women staff can have their say:
Make it clear that your staff will face no negative consequences for speaking truthfully about your
station’s work environment. Follow through with that promise, and be attentive to behaviour change in staff members during or following the assessment. Intervene when necessary to ensure that staff members follow this principle as well. If this is not respected during the assessment, consider rescheduling your discussion to allow you to follow up with those not following the expectation before proceeding with the discussion
Make your expectations clear. Emphasize to staff that everyone’s contributions are important and valuable. Ask staff to show respect for others’ contributions by paying attention, avoiding distractions such as phones, staying quiet while others are speaking, and not interrupting. Establish how staff should participate, for example, by raising their hands before speaking.
Make sure that women are heard and that their contributions are valued equally to men’s. In some ways, this assessment is like a radio program about gender equality. You might need to follow some of the same guidelines to ensure that women staff are able, willing, and comfortable to express themselves and when they do, that they are heard and valued. One way to do this is to ask women what they want and need in order to participate. Another key strategy is to listen openly, attentively, and respectfully to all staff as they participate, which might include making eye contact and nodding. You can
also thank staff for their contributions after they speak. The facilitator acts will set the tone for others.
Be open to what women have to say. Women and men have different needs and concerns, so it is possible for women and men to have different experiences of the same situation. When listening to staff’s contributions, it is not necessary to either agree or disagree with what is said. It’s possible that some parts of the conversation will be uncomfortable. If this is the case, choose to be curious rather than defensive about what staff have to say; only honest feedback can lead to real change.
Your role, or the role of the staff member leading the self-assessment, is to:
- Facilitate the discussion by asking the questions, reading the scoring options, and inviting each
staff member to speak.
- Listen openly, attentively, and respectfully to each person as they share their experiences and
- Give verbal summaries of the discussion as it moves along, asking for confirmation from the group whether you have understood fully, and help the group agree on a final score for each question before moving on to the next.
- In case the discussion turns disrespectful, remind staff of their commitment to be respectful and open to one another. Take breaks as needed.
Possible meeting agenda
1. Welcome all staff & explain the importance of gender equality at your station (20 minutes)
- Welcome remarks.
- Ask staff why they feel gender equality is important at the station. Share your point of view, and/or ask management to share their perspective, which should support the initiative.
2. Review the purpose, process, and areas for assessment (20 minutes)
- Describe how the self-assessment will 1) show the degree of gender equality at your station right now and 2) help staff make an action plan.
- Explain the six axes of the self-assessment.
- Describe how you will read one question at a time, and then invite input from all staff. Describe the scoring options, from one to four. Explain that you will want to know the reason for scores.
- Explain how you will arrive at a final score for each axis (consensus from the discussion).
3. Set expectations (15 minutes)
- Ask staff to share how they will show that they are listening openly, attentively, and respectfully to one another. Repeat staff responses and list additional ways that staff can show respect for one another during the self-assessment (e.g. By not interrupting, rolling eyes, shaking head, etc.)
- Describe how you expect staff to engage (e.g. By raising a hand before speaking, etc.)
- Invite staff to be curious and open to each other, and open and honest in their responses.
4. Lead staff through the assessment (2 hours: 20 minutes per area)
- Read each question and indicators one at a time. Invite all staff, especially women, to share and discuss their score for each question. Do not insist if somebody does not speak when invited.
- Guide the group to decide on a final score for each question. Once all six questions are answered, connect the circles to complete the shape within the spider web.
5. Create an action plan (30 minutes)
- Verbally summarize the results for staff. Describe the strong and weak points of the station in terms of gender equality. Invite staff to quietly reflect on the results for a few minutes. Ask staff what does or does not surprise them about the results.
- One axis at a time, ask staff to identify what actions the station should take to improve on weak points and to strengthen strong points. Identify actions, items and deadlines.
6. Conclusion & Follow up
- Conclude the meeting, thank staff for participating, and determine a time to follow up on actions and deadlines identified.
Please note that discussion is the most important step of completing this self-assessment, and may take up to two or more hours. Take care to invite everyone’s participation, and ask follow up questions to understand the reasoning behind staff’s responses. Staff may not agree on what score best represents your station for each question, so allow for plenty of time for staff to deliberate with each other. If you notice that somebody is participating less or not at all, invite but do not insist/force their participation or explanation. Consider talking to them during a break about what you could do to make it better for them to participate or if there is a different way they would like to share their perspective (e.g. by writing).
Areas of assessment
Mapping your score
Record the final score for each axis in the table and then draw a dot at the corresponding axis and score line. Once staff agree on a final score for all six questions, you should have one dot on each axis of the spider web, or six dots in total. The placement of the dots on the spider web will look different for each radio station.
Resources for more information
FAO, 2011, Communicating gender for rural development, integrating gender in communication for development, Dimitra Project. http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/am319e/am319e00.pdf
Farm Radio International, 2015, VOICE Standards to improve your farmer program. Farm Radio International, 2016, How to serve your women farmers well.
Farm Radio International, 2022, Gender equality and your radio program, learning module. www.farmradiotraining.org
UNESCO, Colin Fraser and Sonia Restrepo Estrada 2001, Community radio handbook, https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000124595
WACC, Mission possible: A Gender and Media Advocacy Toolkit,