Since the end of Taliban rule in 2001, Afghanistan has gone from having just one state owned TV station, to an impressive 76 stations broadcasting across the country.
But despite the proliferation of channels, women are often neglected in Afghan media.
And so a committed group of women are filling the gap. Last week Afghanistan’s first television station by and for women officially started broadcasting.
Shadi Khan Saif has this story from their headquarters in Kabul.
Last week, Afghanistan’s capital Kabul was rocked by series of terrorist attacks. It included the deadliest truck-bombing the city has seen, claiming 150 lives.
Less than a kilometre away from the attack, a group of women were busily preparing a morning show for the country’s only TV station by and for women.
Zan TV translates to Women’s TV. The station is dedicated to women’s voices and women’s issues.
Basira Joya is a presenter at Zan TV. And for her it’s more than just a job.
“We have been making slogans that women and men have equal rights, but in reality that’s not the case,” she said. “Our aim is to amplify the voices of women and girls, so we can make equality a reality.”
Zan TV is aiming for 100% female staff. But that’s no easy feat. Under Taliban rule, women were banned from work. Now women are back in the workplace, but Joya says, they’re still building up skills and experience.
“I had no working experience, when I found out that Zan TV was opening up, I was encouraged,” Joya explained. “My father and mother encouraged me too. My main objective is to be a good presenter, and serve my nation in this way.”
Gender discrimination and harassment are significant barriers for women in the workplace.
But Joya is optimistic that Zan TV will open up a space for women to thrive.
“Every year thousands of women graduate from the faculty of journalism, and it is great for women to come and get experience and training here.”
54 out of the 70 staff members are women, with 16 men doing technical jobs.
The station will provide technical and editorial training so that women can run all aspects of programming.
Senior Editor, Hosnia Mohqiq says she has been overwhelmed by the response from women.
“Women and girls are increasingly interested to work for Zan TV, it gives them hope and encouragement, and when people with such motivation work, they work very well,” she said proudly.
After three months of off-air test transmissions, Zan TV officially started broadcasting on air last Saturday. They already have 80, 000 followers on social media.