The FM network, which provided radio coverage in Norway until 2017, is now giving young people across Malawi access to radio and has become an important tool for raising awareness about the rights of children. 14 radio transmitters from the disassembled FM network in Norway have now been repurposed for this project in Malawi.
Today (Thursday 21 March) marked the launch of the new radio network in Malawi, which will lead to the youth channel Timveni’s coverage growing from 40% of the country to nearly 100%. Radio Timveni is run by and for young people. The channel gives a voice to young people in society and uses radio as a means to educate people about how and why to oppose child marriage.
The FM transmitters were donated by Norkring, which owns, operates and constructs the Norwegian broadcast network, to help radio make an important difference in Malawi.
“This is an important day for Norkring, Plan International and Radio Timveni. We are thrilled that our old FM transmitters and our expertise is providing new opportunities for children and young people in Malawi. Our employees are passionate about radio, and that’s why it’s good to know that we can help ensure that young girls are not married off but instead can go to school and have a future that more resembles our own children,” said Torbjørn Ø. Teigen, CEO of Norkring.
In spite of the fact that Malawi introduced legislation banning child marriage in 2017, the practice is still prevalent across the country. Moreover, it is difficult to transmit information to the public about the new law due to a low literacy rate among other reasons. Radio is therefore a crucial way to spread the word.
“Radio is the most important channel to make people aware of how to combat child marriage. Thanks to these 14 FM transmitters from Norkring, every young person in the country will now have access to radio. We are proud of our partner Norkring. This shows that a partnership between NGOs and the private sector is key to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals to end child marriage by 2030,” said Kari Helene Partapuoli, Secretary General of Plan International Norway.
The proportion of girls forced into child marriage in Malawi is among the highest in Africa. According to the organisation Girls Not Brides, a global network of organisations working against child marriage, 42% of girls are married before the age of 18. The average age of the country’s population is very low, which means that getting information out to young people is critical to combating child marriage.
“Our employees are passionate about radio, and that’s why it’s good to know that we can help ensure that young girls are not married off.”