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Toward a Praxis of Gender Empowerment: Community Radio and Mobile Phones in Rural Fiji

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Abstract

We often see that those living below the poverty threshold are excluded from social capital and social institutions, access to legal processes and economic structures, which further denies them access to taking part fully in society. Two primary principles underlie the motivations for this research. Firstly, the principle that social and economic development truly flourishes where there is promotion of gender equality. Secondly, that one of the key factors in promoting economic growth and ameliorating the vast global economic inequalities is the recognition of the foundational aspect of agriculture and rural development. This paper seeks to explore the means by which women in rural communities in Fiji are empowered through interaction with community radio and mobile devices, two technologies largely accessible to this population, and ultimately how this enhances women's right to access information. The method used is of a qualitative study, utilizing interviews, of a women’s community radio station in Fiji, femTalk, and its rural, female audience. Analysis is carried out in the context of the theoretical frameworks of inclusive innovation, post-development theory and participatory communications theory. Key findings include the use of 'mobile suitcase radio' and 'women's weather watch'. Processes described include monthly women's gatherings and use of mobiles for callback texts and reverse charges. Difficulties using mobile devices include difficulties purchasing credit and power outages, whilst community issues -- such as access to clean water  – have become apparent. Furthermore, agricultural practices, as well as information about scholarships, have been shared through women's gatherings. Limitations include empowerment factors described unrelated to mobile devices in relation to community radio, possible positive bias in interview questions, as well as access limitations to audience interviewees. We see that the interaction between mobile devices, beyond mobile-phones, and community radio and its associated activities has a positive impact on women's status in Fiji.

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  • ADVA Optical Networking
  • CITIC Telecom International CPC Limited
  • CITIC Telecom International
  • Biznet
  • CenturyLink
  • Colt Technology Services
  • Shaw Business
  • Comcast Wholesale
  • China Telecom
  • MegaSys
  • Harris
  • Verizon Wholesale
  • China Unicom Global Limited
  • BTI Systems
  • Paul Hastings
  • Level 3 Communications
  • Vodafone
  • REDCOM
  • Arbor Networks
  • Wolfe
  • PCCW Global
  • Telus
  • ATLANTIC-ACM
  • Infinera
  • CoreSite
  • TNZI
  • Digital Realty
  • World Hub Communications Limited
  • Ciena
  • GTT
  • Telstra
  • Lumen Networks
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