7 March 2021
KABUL CITY – The Findings of the Center for Protection of Afghan Women Journalists (CPAWJ) indicate that 94 media organizations (43 in the capital Kabul and 130 in 19 provinces) have remained adherent to implement the charter of prohibition of women journalists’ harassment.
173 out of 325 national and local media outlets had signed the charter, but security and tradition problems as well as economic challenges are still big obstacles before the implementation of the charter.
The charter of harassment prohibition was made by the Center some three years ago with the aim of promotion of women’s positions with the cooperation of the Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF). The charter is to support women journalists, meet their problems and complaints and reduce gender discrimination. It was shared with the media companies.
During the past three years, 700 journalists and civil rights activists including 173 media organizations, 51 in Kabul and 19 in the provinces (nine in Kandahar, 10 in Balkh, 13 in Herat, 10 in Nangarhar, nine in Baghlan, eight in Badakhshan, four in Khost, 10 in Ghazni, eight in Kunduz, five in Ghor, five in Wardak, seven in Faryab, seven in Daikundi, six in Farah, five in Samangan, five in Parwan, four in Kapisa and five in Bamyan) signed and charter and announced support to it, pledging to fulfill it in their respective outlets.
The CPAWJ launched three nationwide campaigns for implementing of the charter. The first campaign was titled ‘vote to candidates who support the rights of women journalists’ and aimed to help women take more part in the election and support those men and women candidates who defend women’s rights in general and the rights of women journalists in particular. The campaign was launched in late September 2018 in a press conference held with the support from Reporters Sans Frontiers.
Around 100 parliament candidates from eight provinces including Kabul joined the campaign and promised to stick in the enforcement and brining some changes to the laws in women’s favor especially in women journalists’ favor as well as defend them once they win elections. Seven of these candidates are now parliamentarians and adherent to their commitments in supporting women journalists.
The fresh Center’s fresh findings in Kabul and provinces explain that the charter managed to put effective impacts on the reduction of discrimination against women journalists in the local and national media organizations and found its position in the media outlets as a supportive plan of women journalists. But most of media runners say that the recent threats against journalists especially women journalists, the Coronavirus-related economic crisis and the national lockdown hinder the implementation of the charter.
Zia Rahman Zia, from Zhwandoon private Television channel who is one of the charter signatories, says that there are six women journalists working for their broadcaster, while three years ago when the charter was made, there was only one woman. He emphasizes on further implementation of the charter.
Mojtaba Mehrdad, editor in chief of the 8AM daily newspaper, says they provided women journalists working for the daily paper with facilities such as sick and emergency leave as well as transportation tax after signing the charter.
Najib Paikan, head of a Television broadcaster in the northern province of Balkh, says they provided women journalists with privileges, work hours and good behavior after signing the charter of harassment prohibition to resolve their problems.
But a large number of women journalists quitted their jobs in Wardak province and fled to Kabul due to security threats, according to Amanullah Nosrat, head of the Ghazh FM radio station in the province.
Meanwhile, women journalists welcome the Center’s activities in implementing of the charter and want the Center to do more in supporting them against violence, discrimination and threats.
Bahanah Mohammadi, reporter for the Ariana private Television one of the charter signatories, says that the TV’s managers work hard to provide better conditions for women journalists and they are happy with that.
But complaints received from a number of women journalists suggest more works and struggles to reduce discrimination and harassment to the lowest level in the media.
A woman journalist, who had been previously working for media in Balkh province, said on condition of anonymity that she witnessed inequality between men and women staffers particularly in the rights and privileges.
“Talent and merit is not considered despite equal responsibilities. Men personnel are provide with more privileges,” she said, asking not to be named.
“Women had usually faced problems in the media outlets where I worked.”
Fereshtah, another former journalist in Kabul also says about challenges in journalistic activities. She left her job as journalist after the kindergarten of her job place was closed and is now jobless.
Nahid has been working for a media organization in Kabul for more than 15 years as an active and talented journalist. She says that her organization cut her payment 50 per cent when she was back there after the COVID-19 quarantines. This made a big problem for her as a veteran reporter.
Nazila Bekzad, journalist for the Bano private Television, says that women journalists are the first victims of economic crisis in an outlet. The outlets fire women first or reduce their salaries. “The media runners still don’t believe in women’s talents and abilities and discrimination is visible between men and women,” she said.
Faridah Nekzad, Director of the Center for Protection of Afghan Women Journalists, welcomes those media outlets who stick to their commitments to the charter and thanked them.
“We expect those media outlets that didn’t fulfill their commitments to the charter to pay serious attention to a positive change in reporting space for women journalists,” she said.
She warns that women’s presence and activities in the media would reduce if the media runners do not stand by women journalists.
The charter for prohibition of harassment for promoting women’s positions in the media as well as campaigns for the rights of women journalists has been greatly welcomed by people, civil society, media and journalists especially women journalists since it was shared with the people through media.
Sayed Aqa Hossain Fazel Sangcharaki, the former deputy information and culture minister for publications and some famous and reliable media outlets such as the Ariana Radio and Television Company, thee Moby Media Group, Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) and the 1TV channel signed the charter for prohibition of harassment for promotion of women’s positions in the media as the primers of the campaign and declared support of the charter on the first day of its publication.
Reporting by: Beheshtah Ayoubi
Edied by: Center for Protection of Afghan Women Journalists (CPAWJ)