By MARY CARLING
BAGUIO CITY — The participation and access of women to expression and decision making in community radio has gained a high moral ground with the election of two women leaders from the sector of sexual minorities of the Philippines to top positions at the 2nd Assembly of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters–Asia-Pacific held in Bangalore, India on March 20 to 23, 2010.
Worldwide, this Association is popularly known as AMARC-Asociacion Mundial de Radios Comunitarias. AMARC rallies a global membership of more than 6,000 in a call to uphold and celebrate the freedom of opinion and expression in community radio broadcasting.
Embracing the principle of gender parity, the representatives from the 20 countries of Asia and the Pacific gave their mandate to two lesbians, Maica Lagman as deputy president and Bianca Miglioretto as Women in Network (WIN- AMARC) vice president.
This turn of events has signaled a dramatic development in the leadership and program of action of the association. Now, with the stronger voice of the sector of Lesbian, and Gays, Bi-sexuals and Transgender (LGBT) and the active involvement of women, the present crop of leaders render a rich diversity and identity of voices in the growing regional movement of community radio broadcasters.
The respected leaders of the association, Ashis Sen of India, the president for Asia-Pacific and Steve Buckley of Canada, the international president have both welcomed the share of leadership from the LGTB.
A vote of confidence has been given to Miglioretto for her leading role in crafting the Gender Policy for Community Radio and her unrelenting efforts in facilitating women’s participation in community radio. Along with the contribution of other women leaders of India, Malaysia and Afghanistan, and the ISIS International, a women’s media institution, the Gender Policy was acted upon and made a breakthrough in the limited space given to women in media.
Two years ago, on March 8, this policy was delivered to the public to impart a meaningful celebration of the International Day of Women. This year, as the world celebrates the International Day of Women, the voice of this gender policy, articulated in 15 languages of Asia and the Pacific, reverberates in the various communities of Asia and the Pacific.
Flying with the Rainbow Banner
The resounding endorsement of the LGBT leadership came as a surprise to Lagman in an assembly of about 200 delegates composed mostly of men and where among them nominated a man for the same position.
Earlier in the conference, few men, feeling uncomfortable with the social realities around the life of the LGTB, vehemently opposed the inclusion of the LGTB platform in the Bangalore Declaration of Community Radio.
However, the support of most delegates to lesbian leaders affirmed the solidarity of men and women in radio broadcasting with those discriminated against on the basis of sexuality.
Lagman, 25, courageously pilots the airwaves via Rainbow Radio Pilipinas, DWBL AM 1242. With a regular a program on Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., her group in the Rainbow Rights Project opens the airwaves for rational discourse on the rights of the LGBT. With a voice of conviction, Lagman amplifies the plight of the sexual minorities and sends a message to end the discrimination, and worse, the vilification of the LGTB.
Undaunted by what colleagues view of her as young and lacking in experience for an international organization, Lagman with high spirit took the leadership challenge. Amid the applause of the audience at the announcement of the new set of leaders of AMARC Asia Pacific, the energetic and amiable lesbian is eager to play her role in the movement of community radio broadcasters.
The women and the LGBT’s active role in the grassroots radio started to gain a momentum with the engagement of Miglioretto and other women leaders in the emerging years of AMARC- Asia-Pacific. Hopping from community to community in Asia, she diligently devotes her services in building the capacity of women in grassroots radio.
Miglioretto, a Swiss national in her late 40’s who has been living in the Philippines for seven years now, is a frequent visitor in the remote town of Sagada in the northern highlands of the Philippines. After years of conquering the summit of Sagada mountains, Miglioretto, along with the community will soon conquer a new space, the airwaves of Sagada.
Feeling the strong sense of community, Miglioretto said “the celebration of culture in this town co-exists with modern life that comes along with the influx of foreign and local tourists. The people do not reject the new ones but yet keeps their traditions.” She adds, “The upcoming Radyo Sagada will deepen this.”
The convergence of skills and knowledge combined with solidarity and friendship in the community radio movement will keep people like Miglioretto and Lagman flying high with a rainbow colored banner, the symbol of rights and life of the LGTB. (Bulatlat.com)