• No results found

The Media: Identity of Afghan Women

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.

135 References

Afghanistan, ―From Transition to Transformation II.‖ July 2, 2013, The World Bank Report,

www.worldbank.org/content/dam/Worldbank/document/SAR/afghanistan/SOM- WorldBank-July2013.pdf [Accessed on 28/02/2015]

Asante, C. E. Press, freedom and development: A research guide and selected bibliography. Westport and London, Greenwood Press 1997.

Carothers, Thomas. ―The End of the Transition Paradigm‖. Journal of Democracy, Johns Hopkins University Press and the National Endowment for Democracy Vol 13, Issue1, 2002.

Flanders, Laura. The W Effect: Bush's War on Women. Feminist Press at CUNY, 2004.

Merskin, Debra. The S-Word: Discourse, Stereotypes, and the American Indian Woman, The Howard Journal of Communications, School of Journalism &

Communication, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, USA, 2010.

Henry, Frances, Tator, Carol. Discourses of Domination: Racial Bias in the Canadian English-language Press, University of Toronto Press, 2002.

Downing, J. Internationalizing media theory: Transition, power, culture: Reflections on media in Russia, Poland and Hungary, 1980-95. London and Thousand Oaks, Sage Publications 1996.

Diamond, L, Morlino, L. ―The quality of democracy: An overview‖. Journal of Democracy, Vol 15, Issue 4, 2004.

Diamond, L. Developing democracy toward consolidation. Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

Escobar, Arturo, Walter Greene, Ronald, & others. Redeveloping Communication for Social Change; Theory, Practice, and Power, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2000.

Friedan, Betty. The Feminine Mystique, W.W. Norton and Co,1963.


Gross, P. Entangled evolutions: Media and democratization in Eastern Europe.

Washington, D.C, Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2002.

Hyman, G. ―Tilting at straw men‖. Journal of Democracy, Vol 13, Issue 3, 2002.

Hume, Ellen, The Media Missionaries: American Support for Journalism Excellence and Press Freedom Around the Globe, Knight Foundation, 2004.

Hartenberger, Lisa Anne. Mediating Transition in Afghanistan, from 2001to 2004, University of Texas at Austin, 2005.

Huntington, S. P. The third wave: Democratization in the late twentieth century.

Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 1991.

Herrmann, Joshi. ―How social media is empowering young Afghan women: The Facebook effect.‖ The Independent, London, England 11 July 2015, www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/features/how-social-media-is- empowering-young-afghan-women-the-facebook-effect-10375022.html [Accessed on 02/03//2015]

Kamal, Sarah. Cultured men, uncultured women: an exploration of the gendered hierarchy of taste governing Afghan radio. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dept. of Comparative Media Studies, 2009.

Kaufmann, D, Kraay, A, Mastruzzi, M. ―Governance matters III: Governance indicators for 1996-2002.‖The World Bank., 30 June 2003.

siteresources.worldbank.org/INTWBIGOVANTCOR/Resources/govmatters3_wber.p df [Accessed on 03/03//2015]

McQuail, D. Mass communication theory: An introduction, London and New Delhi, Sage Publications, 1987.

Miller, Noah. ―Media assistance post the Taliban regime and the implications for transforming the Afghan social system.‖ Unpublished Dissertation, London School of Economics, London, 2003.

O'Donnell, G, Schmitter, P. C. Transitions from authoritarian rule: Tentative conclusions about uncertain democracies. Baltimore and London, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986.


Price, M. E., Thompson, M. Forging peace: Intervention, human rights and the management of media space. Edinburgh University Press 2002.

Price, M. E, Noll, B, Luce, D. Mapping media assistance. University of Oxford,

Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, 1 February 2002.


Rahim, T. ―An identity of strength: Personal thoughts on women in Afghanistan.‖

International Rice Research Institute, 84, 2002.

Siebert, F. S., Peterson, T., & Schramm, W. Four theories of the press. Urbana University of Illinois Press, 1956.

Shah, H. ―Modernization, marginalization, and emancipation: Toward a normative model of journalism and national development.” Communication Theory, Vol 6, No 2, 1996.

Shirmohammadi, Reza, Hassan, Zarghuna, ―A woman could change the life of so many women.‖ Jun 2015. www.dw.com/fa-af/18514367. [Accessed on 02/03//2015]

Sundquist, Asebrit Pocahontas. The Fictional American Indian Woman in Nineteenth- Century Literature: A Study of Method, Solum Forlag, 1987.

Taylor, M, Kent, M. ―Media transitions in Bosnia: From propagandistic past to uncertain future.‖ Gazette, Vol 62, Issue 5, 2000.

Azizi, Makhfi. ―Afghan Media‖.

www.mtholyoke.edu/~azizi22m/classweb/afgmedia/Radio.html [Accessed on 03/03//2015]

The Office of Transition Initiatives OTI, ―USAID Afghanistan field report Afghanistan. Kabul.‖ 15 August 2005. pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/Pdacf383 [Accessed on 04/03//2015]

Mainwaring, S, O'Donnell, G., & Valenzuela, J. S. ―Democratic consolidation: The new South American democracies in comparative perspective.‖ South Bend, University of Notre Dame Press, 1992.

www.unesco.org/webworld/com_media/development [Accessed on 04/03//2015]


Human Rights, Peace and Elections, www.afghaninstituteoflearning.org [Accessed on 05/03//2015]

mcn.gov.af/fa/page/1836 [Accessed on 05/03//2015]

―UNDP Re-equips Women and Youth Radio Stations in Kunduz for International

Women‘s, Few, Robert, Kasaat, Jalal.


Gharji, Roya. The Media Representation of Afghan Women in Post-Taliban Afghanistan: A content analysis of women’s media in Afghanistan, Department of Gender and Feminism, University of Ottawa, 2015.

Hamishe bi bi Mahroo, Weblog. noorjahanakbar.wordpress.com [Accessed on 06/03//2015]

Local Radio in Kunduz, 12 December, 2015. da.azadiradio.com/a/27604262.html [Accessed on 07/01//2016]

www.lib.utexas.edu [Accessed on 08/03//2015]

Increase of female staff in Kunduz media, April 3, 2012.

www.bokhdinews.af/social/8644[Accessed on 09/03//2015]