Community radio empowers youth to select their own spouses

High financial demands from parents have prevented young individuals in Ethiopia’s Kore community from marrying freely, often leaving them indebted and without homes. With support from Fojo, Kore Community Radio FM 92.3 initiated a mentorship program. This platform enabled community members to voice their experiences, raising awareness about detrimental traditional practices affecting the lives of young men and women. Increased dialogue has gradually granted Kore’s youth the autonomy to select their own partners.

“Parents seeking wealthy suitors for their daughters have long been a significant concern in our community. However, with the broadcast of the ”Tilosh” program, women are gaining awareness and the freedom to choose their own partners and determine the gifts they receive during weddings. This shift brings hope for resolving the issue of women’s decision-making within the community,” says John Kebede, Manager at Kore Community Radio after witnessing the improvements shown within the community as a result of the radio program, which has received support by the Fojo-IMS Media Reform Programme (2020-2023).

A major focus of the “Tilsoh” is to empower women and girls to exercise their decision-making power. The radio program is instrumental and advocates for the right of girls and women to marry individuals of their choice and to decide the gifts they receive during marriage ceremonies.

Previously, it was common for parents to seek wealthy partners for their daughters, but Tilosh is challenging this practice by promoting the idea of autonomy and choice in marriage decisions. Traditional practices, rooted in gender inequality and discriminatory norms, create barriers that limit women’s ability to participate fully and meaningfully in decision-making at various levels, be it within themselves, their families, communities or broader society.

In the Kore community, located in the southern region of Ethiopia, when a man wishes to marry a woman, he sends a group of respected elders, known as “shimagile,” to seek the approval of the girl’s family. However, a concerning aspect of this cultural practice is that the girl’s family often requests a significant amount of money as a condition for granting their consent. This financial requirement from a girl´s family has led to certain repercussions, as men who fear the burden of this expectation have resorted to either migrating to other countries to work and save money or seeking partners from different areas. Unfortunately, this cultural norm has had adverse effects on the freedom of choice for girls and women in selecting their life partners. The exorbitant financial demands imposed by parents have hindered their ability to marry the person they truly desire and build the life they envision. This situation has been creating challenges and limitations for individuals seeking to establish relationships based on personal compatibility and mutual affection.

Fojo have supported community radios such as Kore Community Radio FM 92.3, Debre Markos, and Wolayta Community Radio. To raise awareness, facilitate dialogue, and advocate for gender equality within society and to ensure the program’s success, Fojo not only provided much-needed equipment support but also offered on-site mentorship and program contents to the radio stations. This mentorship programme lasted three months, during which the stations received guidance on producing high-quality content that effectively addresses gender-based violence. As a result, “Tilosh,” a radio program format aimed at creating awareness within the Kore community, was developed by Kore Community Radio FM 92.3 with the support of Fojo.

Through the ” Tilosh” programme, Kore Community Radio is helping the community by raising awareness and promoting dialogue on how these practices can affect women’s lives. ”Tilosh” addresses the gender issue by raising awareness of girls and women to marry whomever they want to marry, and to decide the gifts they are receiving on their own. One of the key ways the program tackles this is by providing a platform for open discussions and encouraging community members to share their experiences and perspectives. Through such discussions, the community started to realise how traditional cultural norms were affecting women and now, they are trying to replace them with a more enlightened outlook.

Furthermore, the Tilosh Radio Programme actively showcases the success stories of individuals who have overcome such cultural barriers. By highlighting these achievements, it inspires others to break free from the constraints of such traditional practices and embrace new possibilities.

In conclusion, the Tilosh radio programme is making significant strides in addressing gender-based violence in rural Ethiopia. By facilitating discussions, challenging harmful norms, and empowering individuals, this initiative is working towards a more equal and just community. Through the support of Fojo and the dedication of the community radio station, Tilosh continues to foster positive change, ensuring that every voice is heard and valued in the fight against gender-based violence.

More stories