Community media are not a new phenomenon in the world. They date back to the 1960’s in New York when feminist programming was introduced on the airwaves. Ever since then, a number of community media have been started around the world and these are argued to be a form of an alternative to commercial media, that is profit-motivated and tends to ignore development and education needs of the masses. Community media are therefore formed to fill this gap created by commercial media and have been viewed as development communication tools especially because of their involvement of the local community in their activities and the provision of educative and informative programs to these communities.
This research investigates one such kind of media; Mama Fm, a community radio station located in Uganda, set up by female professional journalists to reach out to the rural women in the Ugandan society. The research employs the empowerment feminist theory and the development communication theory for guidance in the investigation of the effectiveness of this radio station in empowering these women through its various activities. Both these theories stress the importance of participation of the locals if indeed empowerment and development of the people is to succeed.
Whereas participation of the people in development activities is important, equally important are other aspects like accessibility, management and sustainability of the vehicle (community medium) that conveys developmental information to the people.
Interviews, focus group discussions and review of documents and programs were the methodological tools used to investigate Mama Fm’s ability to bring about change in the lives of the rural women of Uganda. The argument centres around the activities the radio has put in place to ensure this, how the listeners perceive the station and its activities and whether or not the station is accessible to its listeners, what polices it has and whether or not it is sustainable to continue in the empowerment process.