Fellow Since 1997
ALTERCOM (Association pour les Femmes et la Communication Al
This profile was prepared when Fatoumata Sow was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1997.
The New Idea
Fatoumata Sow is establishing the only woman-run radio station in Senegal in order to influence an explosion of electronic media in her region. In her words, the station is designed to "give a voice to women from very basic communities, train them so that they can play active roles in the communication process, and, most of all, enable them to appropriate the technologies of communication. That will bring them to a bettering of their social standings and to becoming full-fledged participatory citizens." She has built alliances with other civic organizations in order to meet the political requirements for securing a license for a nonprofit organization and is addressing the economic implications of such a license, which does not allow advertising.Fatoumata has the support of a number of women's associations and nongovernmental organizations which want to create a radio station that will serve as an information hub. Though focused at the outset on women, it promises to become a "Trojan horse" to educate the civic sector generally in Senegal and eventually, through partner stations in other countries, to stimulate a regional inter-African radio presence. The aim is not to make radio a tool for only elite professional or intellectual women, but, rather, to give them direct access to the power of the spoken word, to open their lives and minds, enable them to participate in the public arena, and demonstrate their entrepreneurial capacity.