Hapsari FM: Community Radio for Women Empowerment

hapsariSince 2009, Hapsari FM, a community radio at Lubuk Pakam, Deli Serdang, in North Sumatra, Indonesia, has been on its path to empower women through on-air and off-air radio programs.

Advocating against violence against women and promoting women’s economic empowerment are among its main focus areas. For eight years, Hapsari FM and its volunteers have given their best for the upliftment of women in Lubuk Pakam. Their efforts are recognized and appreciated well beyond Deli Serdang; in 2016, Siti Khadijah, Manager of Hapsari FM received SK Trimurti Award from the Indonesian Independence Journalist Alliance (AJI).

In this brief interview, Siti shares her story about Hapsari FM, and why community radio still matters despite advancement in information and communication technology.

When was Hapsari FM on air for the first time?

It was in 2009. Hapsari FM Radio is one of the programs under Hapsari—a non-governmental organization founded in 1990 in North Sumatra. It started its radio program in 1997—much before Hapsari FM Radio was established.

How many staff does Hapsari FM have right now?

We have around 10-20 people to run Hap- sari FM. We accept anyone who wants to join, and they join as volunteer, so we do not pay them. Most of our volunteers are women.

How about your target listeners?

All community members around Lubuk Pakam are our listeners. However women in that area are our primary target listeners.

What does Hapsari FM actually do for the women?

We are now focusing on our campaign to stop violence against women. We do so by organizing several group meetings, on-air program, hearings with the relevant stakeholders, and also provide support for violence survivors. Besides that, we are also continuing with our women’s economic empowerment programs.

Tell us about the kind of on-air programs you run in support of your campaign.

We have talkshows supporting our campaign. Besides, we play several jingles, and our radio presenters also disseminate key messages related with our campaign during their regular programs.

So far, in its efforts for empowering women, what are the challenges Hapsari FM has faced?

One of the main challenges is that when our male listeners hear information about women suffering from violence, more o en than not, they blame the victim instead of the perpetrators.

Hapsari FM decided to focus on Lubuk Pakam since the very beginning. Was that decision made because of the many cases of violence in the area?

Yes, the number of violence against women in the area is quite high even today. The problem is, many women think that it is taboo to talk about violence that takes place inside their homes. They do not have courage to share their problems. We wanted to encourage and facilitate them to speak against all sorts of violence, but primarily, domestic violence.

Last year you received an award from AJI Indonesia. How was that?

In 2015, a member of AJI Medan asked me to send him my CV. But at that time, he did not say anything about the award. Several months later, another AJI member interviewed me. He said that my name was on the SK Trimurti Award’s nomination list.

This is the second award. Lely Zailani, the founder of Hapsari FM Radio had earlier won the Ashoka Award in 2000 for her idea and effort to use radio to run women empowerment campaigns.

How did it feel to receive the award?

To be honest, I never expected any award. But it feels good to know that what I have been doing is being appreciated by other people. I will continue to focus on women empowerment by providing a wide space for them to express their concerns and opinion. Every woman can talk about anything at Hapsari FM Radio.

Considering the recent development of information and communication technology, do you think community radio is still important, especially for your target audience?

Yes, it is still important. We deal with rural women who have limited access to technology, therefore radio is more relevant. They can listen to our programs while doing their daily chores.