Researcher, Uganda

Susan Bakesha currently works as a consultant with Development Alternatives Consult (DAC). She is a gender specialist with wide experience in gender research and training, policy analysis and advocacy.  She has participated in mainstreaming gender in government policies as well as a number of development projects aimed at improving the status of women.  She is affiliated with a number of women’s organizations in which she has been actively engaged on various projects including the National Women Candidates’ Training, Gender Budget Training, Gender and ICT, and Leadership Skills Training.



Name: Susan Bakesha, Researcher and Head GRACE Africa Secretariat

Doing research about and with women requires one to understand their lived realities and experiences. This is what I have come to learn through my GRACE 2 project titled, “How have female radio presenters tapped into the power of the radio and used it to improve their personal wellbeing and their effectiveness to accomplish social change?

My research demanded that I build rapport and confidence of my respondents before conducting any interview.  My expectation was that as media people, it would be easier to obtain information from my respondents.  However, even after getting the permission to have the interviews, each my of the respondents was hesitant to share their stories. 

I was later to learn that although people working with the media demand information from the public, they themselves are not ready to share their information about their lives to the public, due to the fear of being misrepresented and their private lives exposed to the public.  To them this was a major threat to their lives, friends and families especially if it was negative. Public publicity was often interpreted as encroachment to their privacy.  This fear was also reflected in their working environment, seated behind closed doors of their well guarded studios.

I also learned that public policy plays a major role to either facilitate or constraint freedom of expression and interaction between the media practioners and the public.  The time I did my field work was after a series of demonstration had taken place in Kampala and other areas in the central region.  The media and especially FM radio stations were under the careful scrutiny of the government. The reason being, the FM radio stations had played a major role in what government termed as ‘inciting the public against government’.  Five radio stations in Kampala had been closed down and some of the presenters arrested and lose their jobs.  Government threatened to close any radio stations that held discussions or reported on the ongoing crisis and banned all public debates commonly known as the ‘bimezas’.



For the first time, I realized that I needed to link my inner being and sometimes spiritual being with my project. I learned to engage my brain more than usual and allow my spirit to be free to think and engage my surroundings to be able to discover the hidden meanings of my actions and the people around me. However, this took some time since I found it time consuming and sometimes demanding and exhausting. One of the main reasons was that it required one to have overall control over the project so as to be able to make decisions and gain ownership of them.

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Grace is an initiative envisioned and funded by
the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), developed by Research For the Future (RFF) and managed by The GRACE Project Voluntary Association
Grace est une initiative initiée et financée parle Centre de recherches pour le développement international (CRDI), développée par Research For the Future,
et gérée par l'Association Volontaire Projet de GRACE .