‘Female radio anchors limited to homey topics’

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/08 February) – More women are now working as radio broadcasters in the provinces but most of them are handling themes that appear to be extensions only of their household roles, an official of the Piniyalan Reporting Governance Program said Saturday.

Dr. Lourdes G. Dela Torre, head of Piniyalan’s committee on community education said during the project’s radio program aired over DXDB that women broadcasters seldom tackle “hard development issues”.

She said most female anchors only tackle themes like household management, cooking, taking care of children, beauty tips, and entertainment.

She said this has only reinforced discrimination against women in the workplace, including in many radio stations.

Dela Torre spoke in line with the radio program’s focus today on the United Nations’ Educational Scientific Cultural Organization’s (Unesco) declaration of February 13 as World Radio Day.

Unesco called on countries “to celebrate radio as a medium; to improve international cooperation between broadcasters; and to encourage major networks and community radio alike to promote access to information, freedom of expression and gender equality over the airwaves.”

Irina Bokova, Unesco director general, in a message noted radio still reaches more people than the internet or television.

“It is both a platform for global conversation and a forum to address local problems. It provides a voice to the voiceless, to the poor, to minorities, to women. It helps educate the illiterate and it saves lives during natural disasters,” she added.

Dela Torre stressed that the situation of women in radio stems from their status in society as a whole – historically limited to household realms. It is men, she added, who ruled radio in the past and present.

Dela Torre, who holds a doctorate degree, cited that most educators are women but their role as broadcasters “is not as much tapped”.

But she noted that Unesco’s call for equality in the airwaves is recognition of women’s power to have “a say” over radio. She said the Philippines has passed many laws to protect women but which did not necessarily redound to fewer violations.

She admitted there’s as yet no extensive research on the situation of women in radio, and there’s a need to validate her observation.

Rebecca Aquino, news anchor at Q106 Love Radio, however, noted that there are already women in radio who have covered issues such as terrorism and peace processes.

Aquino, who had worked with the Martial Law-era DXBB, the forerunner of present day DXDB, said “there are also women who go all out in coverage (of hard issues).”

“Women can do what men can do,” she said, adding she will be among the resource persons on Sunday in the KBP Bukidnon Interaction, a weekly program of the Bukidnon Chapter of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP).

Aquino, however, lamented that while radio stations should give men and women equal opportunities most managers were not yet gender-sensitive.

Fr. Oliver Verdejo, president of KBP-Bukidnon chapter, said the KBP program, which is simulcast in most radio stations in the province, will also tackle the role played by women in the local broadcast industry.

Verdejo said the episode will tackle how women broadcasters were treated and what threats are affecting them in the workplace.

Delia Lapar, anchor of Reyna sa Panimalay (Queen of the Home) on DXDB, said “health, child care, cooking …among other topics are also important development topics.”

Lapar, a broadcaster since 1991, agreed that more women should also host shows that tackle wider
political and economic issues.

She said it’s true she talks about recipes and herbal cures, “but I also talk about harder development issues that directly concern the women and their families.”

She said her talk show covers gender and development issues, violence against women, livelihood, reproductive health, food safety and security, politics and business.

Lapar said because of her talk show she has been invited to join forums and government monitoring of development issues such as access to potable water, Human Immunodeficiency Virus /Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome education campaign, among others. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)