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The feminization of the airwaves

(La féminisation des ondes)

05 / 1993

’Ondes de Femmes’, or ’Women’s Airwaves’ was born in an attempt to improve women’s access to the airwaves in Montreal, Canada. The project began in April 1992, at Radio Centre-Ville, a multi-cultural station in Montreal. Today, ’Ondes de Femmes’ brings together 60 women from 20 organizations. They are Latin American, North African, Roumanian, Africa, Haitian, Chinese, Greek, and Quebecoises--in addition to being students, mothers, grandmothers, professionals, ex-prisoners, and community workers.

RATIONALE: Radio Centre-Ville serves several Montreal communities, broadcasting programs in Creole, Mandarin, Cantonese, Greek, Spanish, Portuguese, French and English. But despite the station’s commitment to diversity, women and popular groups were under-represented in its programming and decision-making structures. There was also a need to promote inter-cultural projects within the station itself, in an effort to avoid ghettoization and encourage mutual exchanges among the different communities represented.

OBJECTIVES: ’Ondes de Femmes’ began as a training and integration project. It aimed to integrate new women’s shows into Radio Centre-Ville’s existing multi-lingual programming. It was set up to target women who have traditionally been marginalized, such as immigrant women, poor women, and ex-prisoners.

METHOD: OUTREACH AND TRAINING: Outreach to women was carried out through women’s and feminist organizations and through women’s committees within various ethnic associations. The project began with a one-day training and orientation workshop. After providing a brief history of Radio Centre-Ville and the international community radio movement, the workshop’s facilitators explained the different stages of program production and the role of each person in a production team. The methodology was both participatory and feminist, drawing upon role-playing, discussions, listening to program segments and short theoretical exposes. Training continued in the field in the following weeks, and soon the participants were able to produce their programs autonomously.

CONSOLIDATING THE PROJECT: The programs themes are selected by the women themselves. Listener feedback shows that the women who participate in the project have the wide support. In November 1992, women involved in the project created the ’Ondes de Femmes Collective’, as well as programming, promotional and fundraising committees, to collectively ensure the development and pursuit of their experience. Several women have become involved in the decision-making bodies of Radio Centre-Ville.

FUNDING: ’Ondes de Femmes’ got its initial start-up funding from Secretariat d’Etat du Canada (Sector Promotion de la Femme).


radio, communication, femme

, Canada, Montreal


The ’Ondes de Femmes’ project has run into a couple of barriers in its second year of operation: -the collective has tried to obtain a second year of funding, but it has not come. Members are currently all working on a voluntary basis. -At the General Assembly of Radio Centre-Ville, the collective put forward a proposal asking for official recognition in the structure of the radio station. They were not accepted, so they are still working as an unofficial grouping.


FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Ondes de Femmes Collective, Radio Centre-Ville. 5212 Boul. St. Laurent, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H2T 1S1. Tel: (514)495 2597, Fax: (514)495 2429.


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