Viviane Schönbächler

Curriculum Vitae


PhD Fellow at the MEDAS 21 research school since August 2018. Born in Switzerland, I studied International Relations at Universities in Geneva and Beirut from 2010 to 2014. The master’s degree in international Peace, Conflict and Development Studies I received in 2016 in Castellón, Spain. Various short-term training, communication and project management positions in humanitarian civil society organisations based in Turkey and Lebanon (2013-2016). Qualifications as a trainer of conflict-sensitive journalism from Deutsche Welle Akademie. Media & Peace Advisor with Eirene International in Burkina Faso (2016-2018).


Research Focus and Interests 

  • Media and Peace, Conflict Transformation, Gender and Peace, Civil Society

PhD Project

Women in local radio: How gendering the media affects the transformative capacities of radios in Burkina Faso. 

Since the media liberalization wave in Sub-Saharan Africa in 1990s, locally rooted radio stations have been considered to serve as important tools for democratization, development and peace. However, two major challenges in these approaches remain: firstly, radio stations are often considered as simple instruments to disseminate messages only, and to a lesser extent considered key actors within their community. Secondly, radio still fails to take into account almost half of the population, women. Globally and locally, radios continue to mis- and underrepresent women in its content, management and production processes. 


This doctoral research project aims to shed light into those research gaps by examining the complex interrelations between gender, radio and the community. The working research question therefore states: How may women’s active participation affect the radio’s capacities to contribute to local peace dynamics. 


The main objectives of the research are :

  • To illuminate and understand the under- and misrepresentation of women in local radios in Burkina Faso
  • To examine the roles of radio within its community that contribute to peace
  • To analyse how women’s participation may strengthen or challenge these roles

Inspired by Peace Studies, Media Studies and Gender Studies, the study will be based on qualitative case studies in Burkina Faso through an ethnographic approach. In-depth interviews, group interviews, participant observation are accompanied with participatory conflict, audience and content analyses to understand the role of radio in peace formation and conflict transformation with a special feminist lens. 


The study might contribute to the emerging efforts of media associations in the country to address the gender inequalities within the media and may strengthen lobbying on a national and regional level. The study may also serve development actors in the media sector to reflect on their intervention strategies. 



  • Schönbächler V, Affentranger A und Holzwarth P (2014) «Global Water», in: Ludwigsburger Beiträge zur Medienbildung 17(1).

Conference Papers

  • "People-to-people Humanitarian and Development Cooperation : Prospects of Encounters between Syrian and Swiss Civil Society Organisations" for Workshop on Challenges of Research on Humanitarian Assistance, University of Siegen, June 2016.





Erich Brost Institute

Dr Dirk-Claas Ulrich
Program Director MEDAS 21

Otto-Hahn-Str. 2

44227 Dortmund


Tel: +49 231 755-6976


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