Media and Women Development in Afghanistan
4.10 The Media: Identity of Afghan Women
sneak a phone to their girlfriend, if her family doesn't approve of the relationship, so they can chat online‖ (independent.co.uk).
A media and journalism teacher at Herat University, Facebook presented a new way of social relations and meeting new people and conversation. Although dating is not the only reason for young generation to join Facebook and some of girls only accept female's friend requests but a large number of young boys and girls are looking for a partner on Facebook to find love and secretly chatting with them without family coming to know about it.
while foreign donors initiated many projects in Afghanistan some of them were concerned with the conservative attitude toward women In this regard a group of politicians and activist gathered at a school in Kabul carrying a banner of "a brave man stands for women" to follow the ―HeForShe‖ campaign which based on gender quality in UN (independent.co.uk)
Zarghuna Hasan faced many problems; she was repeatedly threatened and was even at the risk of being kidnapped. Her radio office was attacked .but she still continues her work in Kunduz.
Through her radio programs, not only the awareness of women and young people has increased, but also there have been positive changes in society. The media had a great impact as a model for young boys and girls who liked to be journalists and currently many of them have become prominent journalists (dw.com/fa-af).
These radios play the role of a distant teacher in absentia for those women who are not allowed to go out, study and stay aware. She emphasizes that radio waves do not need permission from male members of a family and can be accessed and heard easily by women at homes. They learn from our programs while they are sitting at their homes.
Two radios of ―Shayestah‖ and ―Keihan‖ were cut out in the war between the central government and the Taliban on 28th September 2015 after the temporary fall of the Kunduz city by Taliban. Kunduz was occupied by Taliban for three days during which they looted the city and harassed many activists and journalists. After two weeks and with the help of America‘s air strikes, Afghan forces drove Taliban out of Kunduz. But by that time Taliban had looted radio Shayestah and another radio office, also dealing with women‘s issues and run by Hassan, were set on fire (da.azadiradio.com).
The UN statement declared that the staffs of these two local media left due to insecurity in Kunduz province. An employee was also killed during Taliban attack.
All radio technical instruments at the time of Taliban presence in the city were plundered as well. Earlier, these two radio programs which were mainly about health, education and women's rights, could be heard in Kunduz province and the neighboring provinces. But later The Committee of Afghan Journalists Safety announced that in the city of Kunduz 13 media faced serious break downs so that they were not able to start their work.
The UN Development Program had recently announced that on 8th March 2016, International Women's Day, in the province of Kunduz two radio programs which were for women and youth and were stopped by Taliban attacks started broadcasting
their programs. The officials of The United Nations Development Program helped two local radios to disseminate their programs with $ 9000 (af.undp.org).
Additionally Hall suggests that representation is the thing that connects meaning to language, both verbal and written as well as less obvious forms of language such as images. However, as Hall states, there must be a group of people to whom the language, the signifiers have meaning for them to be used and for representation to be achievable. Debra cited Henry & Tator, who said that ―Language constructs knowledge and knowledge is power, according to theorists, philosophers, and scholars. The words we choose to use help construct social, cultural, economic, and historical reality. Thus, ‗‗discourses of domination‘‘ put language to the social use of defining and oppressing those constructed as other (Henry & Tator 2002: 13).
The fact is how women are presented in their writings affects the image building of other Afghan women. The Feminine Mystique‘ Friedan raises the issue of magazines and how they endorse myths of fulfillment through domesticity in a chapter called ‗The Happy Housewife Heroine‘ where she states that ‗the image of a happy women by television, advertisement, and magazine was presented as a housewife with many children and husband coming back home from job which an ideal kind of lifestyle for women (Friedan 1963: 30).
If Afghan women print media represent women as a doctor, teacher, politician, Member of Parliament, engineer, independent this changes the socially constructed image of Afghan women in the media.
Debra cited, Probably Sundquist, who examined ―134 Indigenous women characters from ‗American imaginative literature poems, plays, short stories, and novels, wrote the most comprehensive study of the representations of Indian women in print media between 1799 and 1911. Although the majority of characters were men, with characteristics such as ‗‗iron constitution, superior physique, proficiency in wilderness skills, stoicism, and a special way of speaking,‘‘ Indian women were not represented with these positive qualities. White women wore the shawl of virtue and goodness whereas Native women were variously categorized as ‗‗the Drudge, the Fury, and the Witch‖ (Sundquist 13).
Women‘s media can play a role in breaking the taboos surrounding women‘s experiences, since the media can be used for giving information and educating people which can be a practical process of changing society. Afghan women‘s media can help this process of change for Afghan women, because they have the knowledge of women‘s history, Afghan culture and current challenges. Afghan women‘s media is also a mechanism through which Afghan women represent, educate and develop socially accepted discourse with other Afghan women and Afghan society as a whole (Debra 365).
Hence we see that the media is very important in today context, social media and cyberspace such as Facebook and online radio has played a major role in empowering women. Media representation of Afghan women‘s image through online media is an exercise of power to build a powerful image of new Afghan women in the post- Taliban regime. The rules governing on media and as well as how people deal with media including cyberspace space also.
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