Kabul, Afghanistan – The Center for Protection of Afghan Women Journalists (CPAWJ) was established two years ago by a group of women activists in media and with the support and cooperation of the Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
The center aims to support and defend of freedom of speech, women journalists’ professional rights, enhancing of professional capacities, paving ground for safety and pleading to bring women to the management and leadership in the media outlets.
A research report filed by the CPAWJ in 2018, shows that women reporters are complaining of discrimination, prejudice and harassment.
To resolve this problem, the CPAWJ managed to prepare the charter of harassment prohibition against women journalists and their capacity building in the media outlets and announce it through a grand session in order to support women journalists’ rights. The CPAWJ as a body that identified and spoke about gender harassment, managed to attract attention and support from media outlets through a campaign titling struggle with violence, harassment and gender discrimination.
More than 100 journalists and media owners in Kabul and provinces, government officials including deputy information and culture minister endorsed and supported the charter, while many more journalists and media representatives joined the campaign later.
Also regarding the coordination and sharing women journalists’ problems, the CPAWJ leadership held face to face meetings with the representatives of several media outlets such as Tolo News, 1TV, Ariana News, Maiwand TV, the state-run RTA, Shamshad TV, Zhowandoon TV, Bakhtar News Agency, Pajhwok News Agency and other outlets, and they signed the charter and announced support for women journalists.
Similar meetings were also held with government officials regarding challenges women journalists are facing with and the resolves.
More on the campaign of harassment prohibition against women journalists and for further defense and support of women journalists’ rights, the CPAWJ launched another campaign titled ‘Vote for those candidates who support women journalists’ rights’ on September 26th, 2018.
The aim of campaign was to encourage more women to take part in the last October’s legislative elections and support those candidates who defend the rights of men and women in general and women journalists in particular.
During the campaign, more than 100 parliament candidates in Kabul and province signed the announcement and announced their promised to support the CPAWJ outline in bringing positive changes in the laws (the mass media law and the law of violence prohibition against women) and implement it in case they are elected as people’s representatives in the parliament. This was warmly welcomed by other candidates and the social society activists.
The CPAWJ with the cooperation of the InterNews managed to gender audit the Maiwand TV, Bakhtar News Agency and Ariana TV during the past one year. The aim of the audit was to identify and probe challenges and problems before women journalists in these media companies, especially the implementation of the policies. The CPAWJ findings show that unfortunately, there are still problems and challenges before women journalists and the policies are not implemented as expected. Regarding the professional empowerment and journalists’ safety, the CPAWJ provide professional trainings for 50 women journalists with the help of the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Inter News. The RSF with the cooperation of CPAWJ launched the immunity guidance program for women journalists in the last year’s parliamentary elections. The program trained 15 women journalists how to be safe and protect themselves while covering elections in the unsafe and insecure areas.
Women journalists say the program helped them a lot how to report from the war zones and insecure areas and this helped them be safe during reporting.
The CPAWJ welcomes any move toward peace and peace negotiations, but released a statement regarding women journalists’ concerns that was warmly welcomed and supported by women journalists in Kabul and provinces. The move continues through a campaign titled ‘We connect peace with the guarantee of women journalists’ rights, and no peace will be lasting without media freedom and the presence and women journalists’. Women journalists and civil society activists shared their concerns with the CPAWJ by signing the statement and preparing exclusive reports in this regard. They also called on the government, regional and international countries who are involved in the peace talks to be attentive that achievements gained in the past 18 years regarding the media freedom and presence of women in the media are not jeopardized. The CPAWJ wants to mobilize reporters and cultural and civil societies and share their demands and concerns with the domestic and foreign negotiators through this campaign, because the CPAWJ believes that talks for peace shouldn’t overshadow the struggle against increasing violence against women journalists. The CPAWJ is committed to continue pleading campaigns in order to support and defend women journalists’ rights and struggle seek solutions for physical and mental safety and security of women journalists with the coordination of civil and cultural networks. It also wants to strengthen exclusive conversations and pleadings with media runners, media supporting organizations and the federation of journalists to equalize women journalists with their men colleagues as well as including them in decision-making boards in the media outlet.
Also the CPAWJ as a vocal point with a certain address as an authentic body has managed to register over 10 different cases such as threat, insult, harassment, discrimination and not receiving payments as well as unequal privileges, meeting their complaints and finding relatively solutions for some of them.
The CPAWJ has now active branches, representatives and active and professional journalists in 12 provinces and plans to increase the number to 20 by the year 2020 and expand covering women-related issues and update the situation of women journalists in Kabul and provinces.
The CPAWJ provided four women journalists with the BA and one-year diploma scholarships in order to enhance their professional knowledge, fortunately two of them are now studying in India and the process will continue in the next Afghan Year (2019-2020). The CPAWJ filed and published more than 100 reports and statements about the condition of women journalists and freedom of speech through its website and social networks. Some of these reports put positive impacts on the condition of women journalists and their work space that the samples of them are registered in the center. The CPAWJ established good coordination with the women journalists’ supporting organizations and the journalists’ federation with the aim of making good and friendly relationships and work harmony.
The CPAWJ director as the representative of the federation and member of the joint government and media committee directly presented challenges before women journalists and sharing their suggestions to the meetings of the joint government and media committee so that the relevant bodies jointly evaluate.
The CPAWJ is grateful to the joint government and media committee for their efforts in investigating cases like murder, threat and violence against women journalists, but calls on them to immediately investigate the cases of murders of women journalists and bring the perpetrators for trial.
Center for Protection of Afghan Women Journalists (CPAWJ)