Radio Sana, a community station run completely by women, is changing lives in Baghlan

BAGHLAN - Run completely by women, Radio Sana is the only radio station in the Northern City of Pul-e-khumri, Afghanistan. While the station has a particular focus on women, and caters to a largely female audience, they try to cover a range of different issues that are important to the community.

Meena Mostayed is the head of the station, which also has four other female reporters.

“We had a few radio stations here but all were operated by men,” she said. “We decided to have a special radio for women and all of the reporting, editing and broadcasting should be done by women, independently and freely.”

Women journalists play a particularly important role as they are able to report on social issues in this deeply conservative society while male colleagues find it hard to have access to such issues.

Ms Mostayed said that they are working to improve and raise awareness about women’s rights in the country and also to make sure that their voices are heard.

She emphasized the importance of women’s voices and said that they are working specifically for women.

“Our programs are for women, about the issues they are interested in, but of course we also encourage men to listen.”

Radio Sana is now broadcasting to over 500,000 residents in Pul-e-Khumri City, and the surrounding areas.

Sadaf Ahmadi, from the Afghan Women Journalist Union, said the North East of the country is very traditional and religious, and female journalists face many challenges in their work.

“It’s not easy to be a journalist and work in the media, especially in our country,” she said. “Despite having security problems some girls still work with the media and raise their voices. They face many problems and challenges.”

Despite all these challenges Mostayd is committed to continue her work and help Afghan women.

“Baghlan is a conservative province and we must be cautious about our every action,” she said. “We still remember the fall of Kunduz, our neighboring province - the threat was at our door step. We still have many challenges but I am fighting against the odds. I have faced tough times but I never quit my work.”

Radio Sana’s is making changes in the lives of its listeners – there has been a notable increase in girls’ education and employment opportunities. Also Radio Sana has become a platform for journalism students from Baghlan university to practice and volunteer for a short period in order to have professional experience.

UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) is committed to supporting a strong and independent media sector in which Afghan women play a pivotal role.

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.