• No results found

The Social Media and Empowering Afghan Women: Facebook Effect

Media and Women Development in Afghanistan

4.9 The Social Media and Empowering Afghan Women: Facebook Effect


Noorjahan Akbar is the author of a blog, "freewomenwriters.org", for young people to share their ideas and concerns about their country, about the impact of social media on the world around her. Her view of opinion is that it is more than complex to explain, however, Social media has opened a door to public to have a conversation about daily matters but sometimes Afghan conservative society draw women back to take part in these groups of conversations. for instance, Recently, there is a trend to publish photos of civil rights activists and defame them publicly on right-wing social media (noorjahanakbar.wordpress.com).

Hamidi still feels the fear of the future of women in her country when international forces depart the country and Taliban regain the power. ―Nothing is stable‖, she says. ―You become really hopeful and then something goes really wrong, something happens that creates a great question about what will happen to women in this country, like what happened to Farkhunda‖ who was murdered for burning the Quran and was falsely accused by a Mullah. She was recognised as a symbol of oppression of Afghan women (independent.co.uk).


Afghan women have been deprived of many rights that can guarantee the equality of men and women. The Afghan women‘s media regard women to be equal to men and capable of doing all that men can do. The physiological difference between men and women cannot create unequal social condition between men and women.

According to the understanding of the Afghan women‘s media studied in this research, the inequality is created by certain factors which vary from context to context. Traditional and political constraints have been major issues concerning the situation of Afghan women that have prevented them from practicing equal rights and opportunities with their male fellow citizens. Inequality and violence against women have been a major and consistent issue spoken about in the editorials of the magazines studied in this research (independent.co.uk).

Afghanistan has experienced a boom in social media, and now it is a battleground in the struggle for and against women's rights. Joshi Herrmann reports about the initial reluctance of Samira Hamidi to join Facebook. In 2009, her friends in York University encouraged her to open a Facebook account though it was not usual for women in Afghanistan to have a Facebook account. Now at the age of 35 she is an Afghan women's right consultant and active on Facebook and twitter. She has more than 1000 friends on Facebook with 4000 followers on twitter, almost all of whom she knows (independent.co.uk).

People in Afghanistan recently started using Facebook and mostly it is been used for news, sending messages, and entertainment. At a monthly rate of around one dollar, a popular internet package that provides a Facebook-only data plan is offered by the best telecoms company, Roshan.

Certain activities which were previously unimaginable and even punishable like flirting online or criticizing government are these days like a routine activity on Facebook in Afghanistan (independent.co.uk).

Hamidi, a resident of the Kabul neighborhood of Macro Rayan, have won many awards for her work and is among the country‘s most respected activists of the younger generation. She was in charge of 90 organizations running by more than 5,000 women. Lately, she has concentrated on the case of Farkhunda who was brutally murdered by a large group of people in 2015. In this case, Facebook played a powerful role to display ideas and reaction of people.


The murder happened outside Kabul‘s Mosque (the Shah-Do Shamshira) with medieval cruelty. It started with an argument with a mullah who had wrongly accused her of burning the Quran. She was thrown off the roof, beaten on the road and vehicles, ran over her body, her body was burnt and finally thrown into the river while police were watching the incident. ―We had power cuts that day,‖ says Hamidi, ―so I came to know about the incident, through Facebook, at about 1am. An activist had posted a video of the murder.‖ It soon went viral. ―I would say for a month, every day you would see everyone posting about Farkhunda‖ (independent.co.uk).

Facebook was seen to have been platforms during the previous year‘s elections where many politicians had used it for promotion or people make groups on Facebook make fun of candidates. Even the political hostility has transferred to the social media.

As some politicians told GIZ that ―there are some politicians that could not create a profile for themselves on social media, as their involvement in the civil war meant that they had many enemies who would sabotage their online presence‖


―After Farkhunda, there was a university lecturer who posted a message saying that all these women who are advocating for women's' rights are working against sharia – and that they should be shot to death. It was very provoking and very dangerous. We copied his message, and shared it. That guy disappeared – I think he deactivated his Facebook and Twitter accounts after a lot of pressure was put on him‖


Samira Hamidi believes Facebook can come to the aid to change personal opinions but it does not happen quickly, so they have to be careful not to post any offensive word and how to use this trend for making a change in the society. For instance there is a radio station in Afghanistan which asks young Afghans to share their relationship stories without mentioning their names and the best story will be shared on their Facebook page which has 750,000 followers. Therefore, a program like this has brought a change in dating and relationships of this generation in Afghanistan.

―In the female [Facebook] comments, one can sense a sisterhood developing.

Facebook has broken old cultural barriers,‖ says one Kabul citizen. ―Some boys will


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)