Indu Ramesh was busy collecting interviews from village women in Karnataka state, India, in the spring of 2011. These women were organizing in preparation for the upcoming round of elections in which, under a new constitutional amendment, half of India’s local government seats were now reserved for women. In her early 70s, Ramesh had developed a walking handicap, but she was insistent on overcoming barriers, be they defined by physical ability, social status or gender. In a bustling nation of more than one billion people, Ramesh and her audio recorder honed in on rural women’s voices.
Satisfied with the material she had foraged, Ramesh went back to Bangalore, sat in front of her home computer and packaged these audio clips into a radio program titled “Women in India’s Panchayats.” After distilling all the information she had gathered, the program ran just under 30 minutes. She uploaded it to the Women’s International News Gathering Service (WINGS ) website, leaving it in Frieda Werden’s hands.
Werden opened this file at her home computer in Vancouver, British Columbia, where the sun cycle lagged 12 hours and 30 minutes. Her living room doubles as the production studio and is overrun with file cabinets and boxes full of cassettes and CDs that she plans to digitally archive. From every surface, papers teetered toward the ceiling, but she stayed focused on editing Ramesh’s story, to broadcast it on WINGS. Two weeks later, the thoughts and opinions of novice female Indian candidates would land on the ears of Canadians, Americans and Australians who turned in for their weekly dose of authentic international women’s news.
This is a spotlight on women empowering women through radio. “Women in [their] countries speaking for themselves – this is not something that I invented,” said Frieda, the woman who started WINGS in 1986, back when feminist media was still fairly new. (more…)