Sexuality is still a taboo topic in the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Strongly hierarchical societies offer young people few opportunities to discuss their sexuality. Through the production of radio programmes for, by and with young people at community radio stations, Free Press Unlimited provides them with a fun and safe space to be informed and to exchange thoughts and feelings on their sexual and reproductive health and rights.

‘Controversial’ radio from the perspective of young people

The high number of HIV infections and the many cases of unwanted early pregnancy are testimony to the severity of the lack of information among Central African and Congolose people about their sexual and reproductive health and rights. This information gap, which is particularly substantial in comparison to other countries like the Netherlands, is due to the violent conflicts that have been scourging the CAR, the DRC and neighbouring country Rwanda. To break the pattern of people’s lack of speech on sexuality, 15 community radio stations are since 2016 producing programmes from the perspective of young people with the support of Free Press Unlimited.

A safe and enabling environment to talk

An important pillar of the larger project (‘JeuneS3’, led by Cordaid) of which Free Press Unlimited’s contribution forms part is securité (security). A prerequisite for security is the provision of a space for young people in which they can be confident to speak and in which their opinion is taken seriously. The listeners’ clubs that Free Press Unlimited organises together with community radio stations are exemplary here. At these clubs, young people from 10 to 24 years old can provide their inputs into the radio programmes and discuss with their peers about possible changes within their communities in relation to sexuality.

Personal growth

Besides the radio programmes and the listeners’ clubs, Free Press Unlimited provides trainings to develop young people’s journalistic skills. This stimulates their empowerment and promotes freedom of speech to the extent that young people can articulate their own development. In this way, they can have a lasting impact on their societies.