How WikkiTimes is amplifying Whispers,Empowering Women in Northern Nigeria Through Podcast

It was almost midnight–  an unusual hour for a call, especially on our Unheard Voices hotline. A hush fell over the room as the ring of phone pierced the silence with its insistent trill.

I hesitantly picked up the phone, listening keenly as a voice, barely a whisper,  through from the other end. A feminine voice spoke in Hausa, the language that cradled the dreams and sorrows of countless women in Northern Nigeria. Yet, this voice was laced with evident tremor that spoke of raw fear and simmering desperation. 

“Kukan Zuci Podcast…?” (a Hausa version of the Unheard Voices) the voice queried, more a question mark than a statement.

At that moment, I knew this was no ordinary call. This was a lifeline cast out into the darkness; a plea for sanctuary from a storm unseen. My voice, usually brimming with professional assurance, softened with empathy. “Yes, this is Kukan Zuci,” I confirmed; my words a light in the night.

The silence that followed stretched on for what felt like an eternity. Then, the voice returned; a fragile thing that threatened to shatter at any moment. It belonged to Amina (not her real name), a young woman whose age I could only guess from the youthful tremor in her voice. 

Amina spoke of a life confined by the rigid walls of tradition, born into a conservative family in the heart of Northern Nigeria. Her story unfolded like a desert rose blooming in defiance of the harsh environment. 

Her story– a  woven threads of shattered dreams. Amina  spoke of a childhood stolen, of dried laughter and unfulfilled aspirations. The stark reality of forced marriage hung heavy in the air, a dark cloud obscuring the vibrant future that should have been hers. 

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Each word she uttered resonated with a profound sense of injustice, of a young spirit yearning to break free from the shackles of societal expectations.

As Amina shared her story, the weight of her burden settled on my shoulders. I could almost feel the scorching desert sun beating down, the stifling confines of her life closing in around her. But amidst the despair, a flicker of defiance flickered. Amina’s courage in reaching out, in breaking the silence that had held her captive for so long, was a testament to the indomitable human spirit.

The call that night was more than just an interview; it was a profound encounter, a glimpse into the hidden world of a woman yearning to be heard. It was a  reminder of the power of our platform, of the transformative impact a single story can have. Amina’s voice, trembling yet resolute, became a beacon of hope, not just for herself but for countless other unheard women in the shadows. It was a call to action, a plea for us to continue amplifying their voices, to empower them to break free from the long  silence and claim their rightful place in the world.

Amplifying the whispers: What the podcast represents

In the heart of Northern Nigeria, where tradition often dictates the path a woman’s life takes, a new voice is rising. Unheard Voices, WikkiTimes’ podcast which started in January 2024, is determined to amplify women,shatter the silence and tackle the challenges they face within a conservative society. 

Through powerful narratives and raw emotions, Unheard Voices isn’t just a podcast; it’s a beacon of hope, a platform for women to speak their truths, and a catalyst for change.

The stories that grace the airwaves of Unheard Voices– real life stories of women in Northern Nigeria are poignant tapestries woven from experiences of heartbreak, resilience, and the  spirit of womanhood. From the trauma of forced early marriage to the crushing weight of domestic violence, the narratives explain  the struggles faced by many women in Northern Nigeria. Fear of societal stigma attached to illness, divorce and the despair of lacking access to education – Unheard Voices confronts these issues head-on. It fosters a sense of solidarity and shared experience amongst listeners.

Gone are the days when these women were confined to the shadows, their voices unheard and stories untold. Unheard Voices grants them a platform, a microphone to amplify the whispers that have long lingered in the corners of their lives. Each compelling story is a testament to their courage; a defiance against the silence that once held them captive.

Unheard Voices’ impact extends far beyond the podcast itself, particularly thanks to its Hausa language version, “Kukan Zuci” which loosely translates to Unheard Voices. This influence is evident in the outpouring of messages we receive, filled with raw emotion and a newfound sense of empowerment. Asiya, a young woman battling societal stigma, writes, “Hearing Wasila’s story on the podcast gave me the courage to fight for my education, no matter what society throws at me. I realized I wasn’t alone in this struggle.” Halima, who has overcome drug abuse, shares, “For the first time, I felt understood. The podcast showed me that my past doesn’t define my future.” These messages represent  the strength found in shared experiences, to the comfort of knowing you’re not facing adversity alone.

How we amplify the podcast through partnership,collaborations

The reach of Unheard Voices extends beyond the confines of individual stories published on the WikkiTimes’ website. We are breaking new ground, forging partnerships with local radio stations that broadcast our episodes to a wider audience, including in the local language. This allows us to tap into a demographic that might not have access to the internet, ensuring that even the most remote communities can benefit from the stories and support offered by the podcast.

We have already signed memorandums of understanding with three key radio stations: Vision FM in Gombe, Albarka Radio in Bauchi, and Women Radio in Lagos– all amplifying the podcast through their airwaves. This allows us to broadcast our messages even further and reach new audiences. Thanks to the Nigerian Media Innovation Program for inspiring our diversification drive and to the  Centre for Journalism, Innovative and Development (CJID) for  providing invaluable financial support. The investment is worth the while.

But our journey doesn’t end here. We hope to cover the whole of northern Nigeria, and get more radio stations to broadcast the podcast. We are actively seeking collaborations and support from additional platforms to amplify our reach and impact. 

The obstacles 

However, our journey isn’t without its hitches. The lack of resources often constrains our ability to reach a wider audience. Limited funding restricts our ability to travel and record stories from geographically diverse regions. We yearn to capture the experiences of women across the vast expanse of Northern Nigeria, but logistical constraints sometimes stand in our way.

Another major obstacle we are confronted with is the lack of immediate solutions for the women who share their stories. Every woman who shares her story with us carries a burden, a flicker of hope woven into the very fabric of her narrative. They trust us not just to amplify their voices, but to also shine a light to a path of a brighter future. This is a responsibility we carry with a heavy heart, especially when the solutions they desperately need remain just out of reach.

Take Hassana, for example. A mere 14 years old whose childhood was stolen by the cruel hand of poverty. Her haunting story, aired on our recent podcast, painted a picture of a young girl forced into child labor, leading blind men. For a brief moment, during her interview, a flicker of hope ignited in her eyes. Perhaps; just perhaps, sharing her story would be the key that unlocked a better life.

However, the reality was harsh. Our current limitations meant we couldn’t offer the immediate support Fatima needed. And the news that reached us a week after her episode aired was devastating. Fatima succumbed to illness and died on the 3rd of March, 2024– her dreams silenced forever.

Hassana’s story is a weight we carry– a platform for voices; and presumably for solutions they yearn for. Unfortunately, it  lies beyond our immediate grasp. It is also our constant battle – amplifying their stories while searching for ways to translate those stories into tangible change. Hassana’s voice will not be silenced. It will fuel our fight to ensure such tragedies become a thing of the past for many women in northern Nigeria.

Unheard Voices Seeks Partners For Progress

For the podcast to stand the test of time– strategic partnerships are urgently required. It has to happen. . Collaborating with women-centric organizations can provide the resources and support system we desperately need. Partnering with NGOs that advocate for women’s rights can provide access to a network of individuals willing to share their stories. Collaboration with educational institutions can open doors to scholarships and grants, allowing us to invest in better recording equipment and travel expenses. .

Unheard Voices envisions a future where the stories of these courageous women become catalysts for social change. We dream of a day where  forced marriage is a relic of the past; where domestic violence is promptly sanctioned, and where access to education empowers women to live their own dreams. With each powerful narrative, with each message of hope and solidarity, Unheard Voices chips away at the walls of societal expectations, paving the way for a brighter future for women in Northern Nigeria.

This is just the beginning. As Unheard Voices continues to grow, so too will its impact. Partner with WikkiTimes– let’s  amplify their whispers and empower them together! 

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