October 28, 2018
Safia Rahim is professor at the Kabul University. Born in Kabul city in a spring morning, Ms. Rahim grew up in an educated family and was interested in journalism and reporting when she was a school girl. The BBC veteran journalist Lyse Doucet was her inspiration to choose journalism as her higher education field.
Safia started her career with the Mauj-e-Darya (Waves of Ocean) and Ayanda (Future) monthly magazines while she was still a university student. She has been trying to be a voice for the Afghan women in her reporting work, mostly covering women and children’s life conditions.
Safia sat with the Center for Protection of Afghan Women Journalists (CPAWJ) journalist Beheshta Ayoubi to answer her questions.
Q – Our readers love to know about you!
A – I am Safia Rahim, a lecturer at the Faculty of Journalism and Communications of Kabul University. Unfortunately, I teach, research and write on the Afghan women as part of my daily job. I was born in an educated and knowledge-loving family in Kabul city. I enrolled at the Rabia Balkhi high school and studied there until I graduated, and continued my higher education in the faculty of journalism at Kabul University to get my Bachelor of Arts. I am currently studying for my Master of Arts in the field of gender and women’s affair in the faculty of social sciences of Kabul University.
I started working as reporter with the Mauj-e-Daray and Ayanda magazines when I was studying at the university, after which I worked as a freelance journalist with the Kabul Weekly, Zan wa Qanoon (Woman and Law), Roz (Day) and Sadaf (Pearl) monthly magazines. In addition to reporting and editing, I was working on writing profiles and wrote about 65 ones and introduced this genre of journalism for the first time through the Kabul Weekly.
Besides that, I have written 45 stories reflecting unpleasant parts of women’s lives, and they were published under the title of Sadafha-e-Shekasta (Broken Preals).
I was admitted as scientific cadre at the faculty of journalism and have two research pieces named How to Write Interviews and Media from Beginning to Social Media. My latest research piece is Women’s Role in Media Management that I am working on for my master thesis.
Q – How are you feeling in journalism?
A – That’s a good question. I was keen in journalism and writing when I was a school girl. My first choice in the university entrance exam was journalism and I was lucky that my scores matched the field. Lyse Doucet from the BBC was an inspiration for me to choose journalism. I was an active student during the four-year long university and was trying to be a voice for the Afghan women in reporting and most of my works are about women and children.
Q – Can you tell us about your feeling when you first entered the class as the lecturer?
A – It was a different day from other days because the first things are unforgettable. You reminded me of an impression. At first I was late Professor Ahang’s assistant, once he had some other business and asked me to go to the classroom. Probably, the professor wanted to test my abilities in lecturing, because he entered the classroom at the end of the lecture and sat at a corner. Then he stood in the middle of the room and asked the students if they were satisfied of my lecture. I was so pleased when the students answered they were happy with my lecture. Afterwards, I tried to have more responsibility before the students.
Q – How do you describe the media condition?
A – Fortunately, we have had an increase in the media outlets in the last decade. The media’s role in reporting, training and leading as well as enlightening of the public opinion is undeniable. Our media outlets managed to put a positive impact on the people’s beliefs and behaviors despite enjoying less sources. The audience of today’s media is different from the yesteryears because today’s audience is trained. However, the increase in the number of outlets has affected their quality in reporting and other programs and subjects. Sometimes, the principles of reporting are not observed in some outlets, some of the outlets copy programs, standard literature is replaced with the street language and literature in some of the media outlets that could be dangerous in leading public opinions in the future. Another point is that women’s presence in reporting is poor for the lack of security and job immunity, gender discrimination and tens of other problems. The culture ministry needs to pay attention for the solution.
Q – Do you think the journalists’ supporting organizations are useful in changing situation in the media?
A – The media supporting organizations particularly journalists’ association can play a vital role in improvement of media conditions. These bodies have to build trust among the media outlets and try to help journalists and media outlets solving problems on time and in the light of law. We have active media supporting organizations that raise voice of justice for reporters. But most of the things remain only as slogans.
Q – How many lecturers are there in the faculty of journalism and communications? How many of them are ladies and how do you consider male lecturers’ behavior with the female ones?
A – There are 27 lecturers in the faculty of journalism and communications with six of them ladies teaching in three departments. Though we need more time to reach equity of gender in the Afghan universities, but we have women lecturers in the leadership of the faculty as Ms. Javida Ahmadi is the head of a department and deputy head of the faculty. Lecturers in our faculty have scientific and academic relationships and fortunately gender discrimination has no place in an academic campus and mutual respect is dominant. There are scholars who form the youth’s opinions with the power of knowledge and present to society.
Q – I would like to know a little about your personal life.
A – I am living in a family with all members followers of knowledge. I consider my family as the most valuable gift from the almighty God and I believe that I could not reach my goals and desires without their cooperation.
Q – What would be your message to the young girls who want to become university professors like you?
A – Several elements such as the families, friends, school teachers and university lecturers, studying places, media outlets etc. are affective in the growth of characters and abilities of people especially women and girls.
Three points are important for me since my childhood: having goals, programs and being hardworking to reach my goals that were imagined as desires in my mind. I strongly believe the Farsi proverb “the one who seeks, he/she finds”. I have not received this position easily, and my efforts and hardworking have helped me gain this position.
I message to the young girls to get effort and hardworking as the example in their lives to get better lives. They should be more patient in fighting problems and opening the ties of challenges in their lives. The young girls should be strong against problems and not to surrender them. They need to trust their abilities and should accept that they can.
Q – Your last word?
A – Thank you! Unfortunately, women’s presence is getting weak day by day due to several reasons. I hope that the ministry of culture, media supporting bodies and other people in charge in helping journalists should pay attention to solve this problem.
I plan to offer women’s reporting as a new subject in the faculty’s curriculum once I complete my studies in master degree so that ladies present training and informing programs for other women with full awareness of their rights and needs. They should have better and more effective messages to women and those responsible in government posts. I hope Afghan women have a free of violence life and enjoy their rights.
Reporting by: Beheshta Ayoubi
Editing by: Center for Protection of Afghan Women Journalists