KABUL - Empowering women media professionals to overcome the challenges they encounter in their work was a key focus of a two-day national conference that brought together more than 200 Afghan women journalists in Kabul.
Conference participants, representing 31 out of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, discussed topics such as professional ethics, job security, freedom of expression and the many challenges women face while working in journalism, chiefly among them being social discrimination.
“Lack of acceptance in Afghan society of women’s role in the media sector is a major challenge for women journalists in Afghanistan,” said Shakila Ibrahimkhel, a journalist attending the conference.
Roshani Yahya, one of the conference organizers and head of Voice of Afghan Women Journalists, an advocacy group, said that at the end of the meeting, participants will prepare consolidated recommendations for the government to address the problems faced by women journalists.
For their part, officials from the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) have committed to supporting a strong and independent media sector in which Afghan women play a pivotal role.
At a recent consultative meeting with Afghan senior editors and media professionals in Kabul, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Nicholas Haysom, stressed it is necessary for all steps to be taken to safeguard freedom of expression and journalists.
In January this year, a suicide attack against media workers in Kabul killed eight and injured 24 civilians, many of them from the media sector. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast that targeted a minibus transporting staff of the Tolo media organization. In October, the Taliban had issued a specific threat against Tolo and 1TV.
UNAMA is mandated to support the Afghan Government and relevant international and local non-governmental organizations to assist in the full implementation of the fundamental freedoms and human rights provisions of the Afghan Constitution and international treaties to which Afghanistan is a State party, in particular those regarding the full enjoyment by women of their human rights.