Thursday, March 21, 2013

Mothers on air - tackling extremism from the homebase

Mumbai, 19 March 2013
 by Edit Schlaffer

Some of us may well recall the time when one would huddle around the radio at a specific time of day and listen to one’s favourite programme. Only a few decades down the line, much has changed. The radio has since been replaced by on-demand media granting instant access, information and entertainment. Yet, however difficult it may be to imagine, there are lives that remain untouched by the social-media platforms such as Facebook, twitter and the like. Travelling through India I have visited such a place, which in fact is representative for vast regions of the subcontinent.

So it may seem old-fashioned, particularly in our digital age, to suggest the launch of a radio programme aimed at empowering women in their local communities. Nevertheless, we cannot wait for everyone to become an interactive member of our worldwide web. It is crucial that we move forward now, using a medium that is proven and accessible to virtually every corner of our world.  

SAVE- Sisters Against Violent Extremism has thus decided to launch its newly developed Mother School programme on air. The programme, which is currently running in Tajikistan and is to be launched in Palestine, Zanzibar, Pakistan and Nigeria shortly, aims to provide women with the tools and the necessary space to deal with sensitive family issues and focusing on their children in particular. While the programme in these countries is focusing its capacity building purely on the ground, India will be the first country to air segments of the programme as well.

Archana Kapoor, our long time Indian partner and head of Women without Borders India chapter, will be spearheading the Mothers School programme. Against all odds, Archana successfully set up a community radio station in Mewat, located just outside of Delhi. In a state where severe poverty, isolation and crime are prevalent, Archana’s radio station is now live 12 hours a day, boasting a listenership of half a million.
Those of us, who are mothers, know all too well that there is no roadmap to motherhood. Sitting with a group of women in Mewat, eager to serve as trainers for our capacity building mothers programme, Nishi’s voice was among the most captivating. As a mother of two boys, she noted, ‘It is not that women in our community don't care about their children, it is simply that they are not equipped to care, psychologically’.

I was instantly taken back to the time I left the hospital with my first-born: a feeling of unease swept over me. It seemed so bizarre all of a sudden that I should be trusted with the life of this child, without any qualifications even. While I quickly learned the ropes, I came to value the importance of community support and guidance. The curriculum developed by SAVE aims to broadcast key parenting skills to strengthen confidence and to prevent radicalisation. After all, peace starts at home.

Flash Points: Edit Schlaffer presents SAVE on CBS