World Radio Day was proclaimed on 3 November 2011 by UNESCO’s 36th General Conference after originally being proposed by the Kingdom of Spain.
Marked worldwide every 13th of February, World Radio Day seeks to celebrate the importance of the radio in improving international cooperation, providing access to information and supporting free speech.
According to the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, ‘Radio reaches the widest audience in the world’.
‘In an era of dramatic advances in communications, Radio retains its power to entertain, educate, inform and inspire.
It can unite and empower communities and give voice to the marginalized.’’
This year’s theme: Radio Day and Sports, focuses on the following UNESCO sub-themes:
Diversity in Sports Coverage: Through the coverage of traditional and grassroots games, Radio can reconnect people with their cultural heritage, promoting freedom of expression and diversity through cultural expression;this helps to encourage more and promote local sports on Radio.
According to Akinemi A. Francis: Traditional Sports & Games in Nigeria ,1993, there are a lot of traditional sports and games that cut across over 2000 ethnic groups of people in Nigeria, some of which reflected cultural heritage and religious background of the people in general.
He listed, Ayo [seeded game] Abula [Ball game] Kokawa [Traditional Wrestling] Dambe [Traditional Boxing] Langa [An hopping game] and Aarin [An African Billiards game].
Radio as a medium is used to promote foreign sporting institutions and events in the country, rather than giving adequate attention to promoting indigenous sporting activities, So it is time to encourage these local sports content on Radio that would promote the cultural heritage of Nigerians.
Gender Equality in Sports Coverage: Sports coverage is hugely powerful in shaping norms and stereotypes about gender. Radio has the ability to challenge these norms, promoting a balanced coverage of men’s and women’s sports and a fair portrayal of sportspeople irrespective of gender; According to the UN, women represent just 7 percent of sports people seen, heard or read about in the media. This is highly discriminatory and in turn reduces confidence of sportswomen.
A huge proportion of Nigeria’s sporting success is attributed to women. The most obvious example is the Super Falcons. Nigerian women stand well against their male counterparts. In spite of this, there has been very poor reportage of women activities in the media.
For sports media, the severe lack of women commentators, the scarce coverage of women’s competitions and the promotion of narrow gender stereotypes represents not only a challenge to media pluralism and objectivity – it is to be complicit in the limiting of options for all people to express themselves and live the life they choose.
While some encouraging progress can be seen in some areas, new practices for sports coverage are needed that provide equal opportunities for broadcasters, offer fair portrayal of women and men athletes, and celebrate all athletes regardless of gender.
Peace and Development through Sports Coverage: Through greater coverage of sports for peace and development initiatives, the universal values of non-violence, solidarity and tolerance are recognized and celebrated.
Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay said the radio is a powerful means to transmit the enthusiasm of sport events. It is also a means to convey the values of fair play, teamwork and equality in sport.
Finally, Radio can help combat inter-ethnic and religious differences that are, expressed both on and off the field. It allows a broad range of traditional sports to be covered, far beyond the elite teams. It provides the opportunity to nurture diversity, as a force for dialogue and tolerance, thereby impacting lives positively.
Tina Oyinsan/ Abuja