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This All-Women News Station in Afghanistan Is the First of Its Kind

Meghan Werft

By Meghan Werft

Brought to you by: CHIME FOR CHANGE

Reuters

Ready to bring you breaking news, an all-female news broadcasting station is set go live on the airwaves Sunday in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Zan TV, meaning “Women’s TV,” is the first news station of its kind in the country, and will focus on female empowerment in boths its content and appearance.

All of the station’s broadcasters and producers are women, and rather than sitting at drab desks in front of boring backgrounds, the young hijab-clad broadcasters will sit in front of vibrant backdrops filled with butterflies and rainbows. Seriously amazing.

While these women may present news amid playful imagery, they’re serious about their work, according to a Reuters report.

The station was actually founded by a man, proving that feminism takes all genders to achieve. Hamid Samar, Zan TV founder, is a media entrepreneur in Kabul. He proudly stated his reasoning for investing in the all-women station.

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

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Under Taliban rule in Afghanistan, media outlets were extremely controlled. Women were not allowed to hold positions as broadcasters or journalists, or attend school. Since the end of Taliban rule in 2001, media freedom has grown. Today, there are some female broadcasters.

But journalists are still a major target of Anti-government insurgency groups. In 2016, 12 journalists, were killed, more than any other year since 2001 according to humanitarian organization Human Rights Watch.

For any journalist to put their face out there, especially women, takes grit. The women of Zan TV are doing it in the name of gender equality. The station will run out of Kabul but be available to viewers across the country.

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The station aims to bring the voices of women to the forefront of news. It also plans to teach Afghan women about their rights.

In Afghanistan women are restricted in many ways. Women who flee domestic violence or forced marriage can be arrested for “moral crimes” and thrown in prison, and child marriages are common, according to according to Human Rights Watch. The country was ranked number 169 of 187 countries for gender equality by the United Nations Development Programme.

However, there is hope Afghanistan is slowly progressing on women’s rights.

The government has recently released some women jailed for under the moral crime law, HRW reports, and amended the law, allowing women to “run away” to medical providers, the police, or the house of a close male relative if they are fleeing dangerous marriages

The country also took steps to end child marriage with its “National Action Plan to Eliminate Early and Child Marriage.”

But it will take awareness on these changing laws for women to know their rights. And that’s where the brave women of Zan TV can help.

Katira Ahmadi, 20, a producer at Zan TV, is one one of those courageous women. She told Reuters that she is excited about the station because women are not aware of their rights in Afghanistan.

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This station represents women and we work to raise the voice of women so they can defend their rights," she told Reuters.

For Ahmadi and others, competing with over 40 other stations in a country where violence against women is endemic is no small feat. For the women of Zan TV to start their own station and make it to air is an unprecedented feat.

Ahmadi tells Reuters that she faced disapproval from friends and family for joining Zan TV as well as threats from outsiders.

But that doesn’t stop her, or female presenters like Shamela Rasooll, 22, from breaking boundaries.

"This television channel has been created so that we can fight for the rights of women and raise their voices for everyone to hear and see that women also have the ability to work in society," Rasooll says in the video above. 

About Our Partner

CHIME FOR CHANGE is a global campaign founded by Gucci in 2013 to convene, unite and strengthen the voices speaking out for girls and women around the world. CHIME FOR CHANGE Co-Founders Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Salma Hayek Pinault continue to lead the campaign with its coalition of partner organizations. In 2015, CHIME announced a long-term partnership with Global Citizen, and together, CHIME FOR CHANGE and Global Citizen have joined forces to take action for gender equality.