Afghanistan’s Female Journalists Get a First Chance

The creation of Afghanistan’s first Women’s Journalism Center pushes the country forward, but may also put many in danger.

Afghan female journalists


Women in Afghanistan are making bold, yet cautious, steps toward press freedom and making their voices heard, through Afghanistan’s first Women’s Journalism Center. The Center was born out of a need to funnel female journalism graduates from Herat University into actual journalism jobs, rather than following the traditional and safe route of teaching. Journalists, both male and female, still face dangerous circumstances in war-torn Afghanistan, so the creation of a female-specific journalism center is likely to raise eyebrows–but also earn international applause.

“Such a center could not only seek to provide local reporting to local
audiences, but also play the role that so-called ‘bridge bloggers’ play
— providing context and depth to those who are nowhere near
Afghanistan but anxious to know what’s going on,” Jonathan Zittrain, Harvard Professor and Co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, tells Fast Company. “Indeed, foreign correspondents could come to draw on the work going on at centers like this to flesh out their own reporting, crediting the new sources.”

The Afghan Women’s Writing Project is another resource for female journalists in Afghanistan, and yesterday one of their journalists wrote about predicting the recent Afghan earthquake. It’s unclear if writing about non-political, religious issues is a safety net for most female reporters or if they generally feel free to express a critical voice.

As for security questions, we’ll have to wait and see how this pans out, but perhaps the increasing role of women in media and journalism will ultimately affect national policies, and as the UN has reported, greater involvement of women in government helps to drastically decrease violence against women.

[Image via Afghan Women’s Writing Project]

About the author

Jenara is an overseas reporter for Fast Company and a freelance writer/producer in Asia, regularly on CNNGo, and a graduate of Harvard and UC Berkeley.