Ms Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO
On this World Day we celebrate radio’s power to nurture and build peace.
Since it was developed about a century ago, radio has proven to be an exceptional means of communication, debate and exchange – indeed, it is one of the most accessible and widespread types of media.
It is these characteristics which explain why UNESCO has particularly relied on radio throughout the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, when it has been necessary to reach children and students who were out of school and especially isolated. Radio has thus allowed us to establish an effective system of teaching over the airwaves in many countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, where less than a quarter of the population has access to the Internet, radio has enabled the continuity of learning despite the difficulties.
Radio is thus very often the medium of last resort. We are seeing this again in Afghanistan, where girls and women have been suddenly and unfairly denied their right to learn, study and teach.
In order to respond to this situation, which UNESCO has strongly condemned, our organization has launched, with the European Union, a major programme to support the Afghan media. The objective is to help circulate educational material, as well as material concerning health and safety, and to reach at least six million Afghans directly.
Aside from being a technical instrument, the radio also provides a space where democratic debate is fostered and enriched. It is therefore essential to safeguard both the independence and the diversity of what is, in many respects, a genuine modern-day agora. This is why UNESCO, which has made freedom of the press a priority, supports community and independent radio stations around the world.
On this day, UNESCO calls on everyone – listeners, radio broadcasters and audiovisual professionals – not only to celebrate radio’s potential, but also, and especially, to make greater use of radio as a unique instrument of peace.
Originally published : https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000384434_eng.locale=en