As part of our International Women’s Day blog series, we have interviewed some of the brilliant people that make our work at Womanity possible. In this blog, we hear from Maysoun Odeh, Founder of Radio Nisaa, on what Balance for Better means to her.
Tell me a bit about how Radio Nisaa started?
Nisaa FM is the brainchild of Yann Borgstedt, Womanity’s Founder. After meeting Yann in Jerusalem back in April 2009 we jointly decided to start a radio station. Yann had seen a similar experience in Afghanistan and thought it could work in Palestine. So between August 2009 to June 20th 2010 I embarked on registering, obtaining the frequencies and determining the content of the programmes. When we launched we started off as just 5 employees with 2 core programmes, one in the the morning and one in the afternoon. We now have 13 employees, run 3 core programmes, news on the hour and host a daily specialised radio show.
What do you think has been at the heart of Radio Nisaa’s success?
We are the first specialised radio station in Palestine and possibly the MENA region. This gives us an edge. However the success is attributed to several things: the professionalism of the team, the music we play as entertainment and the determination of the management to make it success regardless of the obstacles that come our way.
Why do you think radio is such a powerful tool for change?
Radio is the best medium of communication in my opinion. It’s personal, cheap, accessible and anonymous. You can share your thoughts and concerns on the airwaves without even saying your name. Radio is also portable; you can listen in the car, kitchen, office, even your bathroom.
In your opinion what has been the most impactful thing that has come from Radio Nisaa?
The economic and social empowerment of Palestinian women. Not one day passes when we don’t hear about our positive impact on women’ lives, such as the increase of sales in women’s products thanks to a free advertising campaign which was supported through a grant by PolishAid.
What is happening with Radio Nisaa at the moment? Are there any exciting developments on the horizon?
Plenty of new networks locally, regionally and internationally. I just came back from Italy where we are board members of the network “ Medfeminiisya” – a project of the Women Mediterranean Fund. It’s a feminist group from different Mediterranean countries who combined efforts to establish a platform to cater for women in the region. We are also part of Shabaktuna network which was launched by the Ministry of Women Affairs and focuses on gender sensitive reporting. So you see Nisaa is now a reference point for media & feminism!
Can you tell me a bit about your personal leadership style? What do you think is important in leadership?
Delegation of power is very important and so is making the team feel at home at work. Giving the team ownership of their programmes is also important. I tend to supervise on the main issues to ensure that they adhere to the mission & vision of Radio Nisaa FM. Apart from that, I leave it to the team to decide on the guests, questions and the selection of topics. I also think capacity building is an ongoing process so the team on average gets 2 training courses whether locally or internationally.
What advice do you have for a young entrepreneurs?
It is very important to stay focused. We tend to see nowadays, at least in this region, projects that start off as youth projects and end up as women projects – many of them relate to grant opportunities and therefore they change their focus. I also think the right advice and mentorship are essential for young entrepreneurs.
What has Radio Nisaa been doing to mark International Women’s Day?
Every year we join forces with women organisations or CSO’s to promote a certain women campaign. This year we will be working with UN Women in Palestine and its partners on the Family Protection Unit which the Palestinian Government is trying to pass. Besides this, we shall report on all the activities that take place in support of this day. This is a public holiday in Palestine and Nisaa FM usually offers it as a day off for its employees.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is “Balance for Better”. What does “Balance for Better” mean to you?
Having men and women work together on gender equality – throughout our progress we always considered men as partners of change; women cannot be alone in the fight for their rights.