Afghan Women Break Tradition To Bring New Voice To Media Industry

"We've never seen anything special for women and that's why we've done this."

A TV station by Afghan women for Afghan women will launch Sunday in Kabul, and it will be the first of its kind. While it will not be the first instance of Afghan women appearing on news shows in the country, Zan TV ("Women's TV) will be the only channel that is staffed by only female presenters and producers. 

Hamid Samar, a media entrepreneur, told Nigerian TV channel Channels that he had the idea for the station when he was looking through resumes for an anchor position at another channel and saw that many of the applicants were women, despite the continuing cultural taboo associated with women working outside the home. 

"There has been a lot of talk about women's rights and media rights," he told Reuters. "But we've never seen anything special for women and that's why we've done this."

About 50 women, some students, some who have experience in the industry, run the station. There is a team of male technicians who work behind the scenes and, due of a lack of access to media training for women, step in as teachers when necessary. 

"Since I began working in media, I have received many threats," presenter Shamela Rasooli told Channels. "Even my family members oppose my job, and my relatives, my uncles and cousins, say it is not right for a girl to work at a TV station, but I ignore them so that I can achieve my goals."

Rights for women in Afghanistan remain limited. The country was ranked 169 out of 187 in gender equality by the United Nations. Additionally, according to Human Rights Watch, last year was the most dangerous year on record since 2001 to be a journalist in the country. However, the women involved in the station hope Zan TV is not deterred and hope the station will help other women understand the importance and power of their own stories. 

"I am so happy that this TV station has been created for women because there are women in our society who are not aware of their rights," Khatira Ahmadi, a producer at the station, told Reuters. "This station represents women and we work to raise the voice of women so they can defend their rights."

Cover image via  Truba7113 / Shutterstock.com.

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