Somalia's first women-run radio and television company opened in the capital, Mogadishu. Supported by the United Nations, Bilan Media plans to produce stories important to women and their rights in the conservative country.
The launch of Bilan Media in Mogadishu marks a step forward in the efforts by Somali women to take a more active part in Somalia’s male-controlled society.
Bright and clear
Bilan means bright and clear in the Somali language. The founders say they hope to discuss some of the most important issues relating to and affecting women.
Nasrin Mohamed Ibrahim is the editor at Bilan Media.
“This project is designed to overcome many of the problems facing the community,” she says. It will focus on the problems of women.
By going all-female, Bilan hopes to gently break apart Somalia’s conservative society. In the male-dominated news business, subjects such as rape, sexual assault and women’s medical issues are not usually reported. So, Bilan will be telling those stories.
Raising women's voices
Bilan says it does not seek to compete with the usual media, but to move in a different direction by raising the voices of women, which may have an effect on the male-dominated society.
Fathi Mohamed Ahmed is the deputy editor.
She says, “I can say that the reason for the formation of this media outlet for women is that in most parts of Mogadishu and Somalia as a whole, there are media outlets where both men and women work but are managed and owned by men. The circumstances of women's needs are not discussed in detail. For example, violence against women is not discussed in depth.”
Ahmed says the owners of the media station are not trying to make money. Instead, they want to show the productivity and power of women. The women journalists want to improve their skills and present them in a workplace free from corruption and abuse.
Danger for Somali journalists
The Committee to Protect Journalists says at least 71 reporters or journalists have been killed in the ongoing civil war by Islamist militant groups.
The situation is bad for female journalists who have to fight other problems such as sexual harassment in newsrooms, cultural stereotypes, pressures from families as well as low pay, compared to male counterparts.
Hinda Jama is head of gender affairs at the Somali Journalists Syndicate. She says Somali society is not used to seeing women doing things alone or being journalists working alone. Religion-wise, she adds, some leaders may consider women unworthy to speak in the media. Bilan Media is scheduled to go on the air April 25th.
I’m Jill Robbins.
Ahmed Mohamed reported on this story for VOA News. Jill Robbins adapted it for Learning English.
Words in This Story
outlet – n. (media outlet) an organization providing reports on the news
circumstances – n. (pl.) situation
journalist – n. a person whose occupation is journalism; reporter, news editor, or the like
stereotype – n. a fixed or conventional idea, as of a person, group, or the like, held by a number of people, and allowing for no individuality or critical judgment
gender – n. the fact or condition of being a male or a female human being, esp. with regard to how this affects or determines a person's self-image, social status, goals, and the like
syndicate – n. any group organized to further some undertaking
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