World Radio Day – enhancing global dialogue

13 February, 2014

13 February is UNESCO’s World Radio Day and is a time to reflect on the importance of the radio in furthering communication throughout the world. The particular focus this year is on promoting gender equality, both in the production of radio programmes and through spreading a message of inclusion through their content. The changing nature of the radio in an era of the internet and social media is also a theme. The importance of the radio and new innovative forms of communication has been reflected in our recent conferences and with the launch of our own radio channel – Wilton Park World Radio. As an institution dedicated to harnessing the power of dialogue, we are constantly looking for ways to include the role of media in our discussions.

Today is UNESCO’s World Radio Day, a time to reflect on the importance of the radio in furthering communication throughout the world. The particular focus this year is on promoting gender equality, both in terms of increasing the representation of women in the production of radio programmes and through enhancing the awareness of women’s rights through the content – or as the message from UNESCO says, to encourage gender equality “in and through radio”. The changing nature of the radio in an era of the internet and social media is also a theme.

The importance of the radio and new innovative forms of communication has been reflected in our recent conferences, including Media and fragile states which was run in partnership with BBC Media Action, BBC World Service and Free Press Unlimited, amongst others. One case study even shared the example of an initiative to set up community based radio stations in the conflict stricken areas of South Sudan. These radio channels provided those people in these communities with an authentic, trusted voice to both reflect the experiences they were going through and provide them with a reliable account of the situation developing throughout their country.

The role that the radio and media more widely can play in emergency communication and disaster relief was reflected in a two day workshop we ran for journalists in Vietnam, in partnership with the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) and Vietnam Television Training Center. Amongst other themes, sessions focused on ‘the why’ and ‘the how’ of reporting disaster risk reduction stories.

In terms of new social media functions our conference New media and a digital age: the opportunities for public service delivery looked at new ways for government and society to communicate, including a Forum hosted by the BBC.

This year we also launched our own radio channel, Wilton Park World Radio. Streaming 24 hours a day worldwide this site plays a selection of podcasts and interviews with key opinion formers from politics, diplomacy, academia, business, civil society, the military and media. This is another way that we aim to share the essential messages and lessons learned from our conference discussions.

In the conclusion of their message for today, UNESCO draws attention to the strength that radio allows people to share “any message, any place, any time”. However, it is also noted on their website that up to a billion people still do not have access to radio today, so there is still much to be done to promote accessibility to communication. As an institution dedicated to harnessing the power of dialogue, we are constantly looking for ways to include the role of media in our discussions.

Further information

Conference: Media and fragile states

Conference: Disaster preparedness in Vietnam media

Conference: New media and a digital age

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