Women’s Economic Empowerment on the Airwaves
Working with Media to Influence Gender Norms in Mozambique
In a suburb of Maputo, Mozambique, small-business owner Isabel Matola faced a challenge common to many women entrepreneurs. Isabel’s husband was resistant to the idea of her running a business, and his jealousy often made it difficult for her to manage her second-hand clothes shop. However, she received advice about how to address the problem from an unlikely new source: a fictional entrepreneur named Janete.
Janete is the title character of a radionovela developed by the Women In Business (WIN) program–a five-year initiative implemented by TechnoServe and financed by the Embassy of Sweden in Mozambique–in partnership with production company ANIMA. As part of WIN’s efforts to support women’s economic participation, the program has worked across several media channels to influence gender norms, equip women entrepreneurs with essential information, and build a business case for edutainment in the country.
WIN is operating within Mozambique’s rather closed broadcast media environment. Government-run broadcasters compete with a handful of privately owned stations, and there is little investment in locally produced or educational content. Nevertheless, broadcast media reaches millions of Mozambicans and is a potentially powerful tool for creating change.
To foster that change, WIN worked to embed messaging across a series of media channels:
Janete radionovela: WIN created a 26-episode radio series following the experience of Janete, a woman navigating the entrepreneurial experience, learning lessons about running a business, and changing perceptions about the ability of women to be business owners. The program is building on the success of the radionovela by bringing Janete to social media, where the entrepreneur’s advice will reach even more people.
Business Clinic: WIN worked with TV Sucesso’s popular Sunday variety show to create a 15-minute segment in which women entrepreneurs discuss their experiences and challenges with a business consultant.
Escola do Agricultor: WIN worked with this multiplatform (radio, television, and interactive voice messaging) communications program to incorporate messaging around gender norms.
TV Miramar: WIN has worked with the network’s newscasts to insert poll questions related to gender and women’s entrepreneurship, with viewers able to answer on the network’s Facebook page.
These initiatives have reached approximately 350,000 women entrepreneurs, helping 45,000 to adopt new practices and 16,000 increase their incomes. In the process, the WIN program has identified three keys to success in working with the media in order to change gender norms and build entrepreneurial skills:
Being intentional at the strategy and design phase yields better results in the end: Adaptation is an important part of all interventions, but when working with the media, it’s vital to conduct significant research and plan thoughtfully before you launch activities. You need to understand your audience, the information and content it requires, the channels and programs where it gets information, and the time when it accesses those channels. While there may be robust data about this in countries with mature media ecosystems, it will likely require quite a bit of research in emerging markets.
Impact measurement requires investment and inventive thinking: For the WIN team, it was very important for us to know if our media interventions were reaching the target audience and having a real impact. For media-based interventions, this requires significant investment and creative thinking. We worked with the international market-research company Ipsos to conduct audience tracking, which is the gold-standard evaluation approach. Through baseline and endline surveys conducted with viewers and non-viewers, we were able to measure the impact on best-practice adoption and income increases among women entrepreneurs. But we also explored lower-cost approaches, such as prompting audience members to participate in quizzes so that we could see how well the training material was being understood.
Sustainability requires building a business case for edutainment: Finally, while WIN has been driving these interventions, our vision is that the media sector and advertisers will pick up the baton and invest in programming that informs women entrepreneurs and influences gender norms. As a result, we are organizing events to bring together the private sector to discuss relevant trends in the media, sharing data about the preference of Mozambicans for locally produced content, and building the business case for investments in this kind of content.
The case for creating more content like Janete is clear to Isabel Matola. She took advice from the radionovela and talked to her husband about the ways in which her business was helping the entire family. Following that discussion, Isabel has found her husband much more supportive of her efforts as an entrepreneur. “Today, I can do my business without going through any issues with my husband – be it psychological or emotional – thanks to Janete’s tips,” she said.
By thoughtfully designing, measuring, and crowding in media-based interventions, we can impact the lives of more women like Isabel.
Sarah Bove, Acting Program Director, Women In Business (WIN)
With fifteen years’ experience in international development and women’s empowerment, Sarah Bove currently works at TechnoServe Mozambique as deputy program director for Women IN Business (WIN), a program that works with private sector actors to catalyse change for women micro-entrepreneurs. She also serves as gender lead, providing advisory services and training to programs and staff on gender sensitive programming, and previously led Business Women Connect, a women’s entrepreneurship and financial inclusion program implemented by TechnoServe. Before joining TechnoServe, she founded IKURU, an ethical fashion label in Northern Mozambique, and has worked as research consultant, M&E officer, and project coordinator in gender relations, sustainable livelihoods, and migration. She holds a Masters in International Development from Lisbon University Institute and a Bachelor in Social Studies from McGill University.