“Afghanistan is a horrible place, especially for women. This is not true, but it is how the international media show my country,” says 21-year-old Diba Akbari, a reporter and presenter at Zan TV, the first TV channel aired exclusively by Afghan women.
Diba and her fellow Afghan female journalists report on the society in which they were born and raised — and they face a wide range of challenges. Their careers were born within deeply entrenched patriarchal norms and a lack of media independence. Some face objection to their work from their families and harassment both in their offices and while reporting. Others have paid dearly in their personal lives as a result of their work.
Despite these hurdles, Afghan women journalists continue to push forward, investing in their country and providing a unique and insightful perspective on Afghan stories — one not available from men or outsiders.
The growth of the Afghan press has been one of the rare undisputed success stories of foreign intervention in the country. Before 2001, no private broadcasters operated in Afghanistan. Today, according to Internews partner Nai, the Afghan press corps is made up of some 10,000 media workers and journalists. Of these, just over 1,700 are women.
Female Afghan journalists largely find themselves sidelined in stories published about and from Afghanistan. A lack of trust is just one of the reasons. Abdul Mujeeb Khalvatgar, managing director at Nai, says international organizations face challenges with security because there is no system in place to check the background of employees from Afghanistan.
Today, according to Internews partner Nai, the Afghan press corps is made up of some 10,000 media workers and journalists. Of these, just over 1,700 are women.
In 2010, political journalist Shakila Ibrahimkhail’s investigative report on women being sold in the Jalalabad bazaar of Shinwar led the…