Afghanistan

UNAMA highlights importance of participation of women in the workplace and across the media with new effort in Afghanistan’s Khost province

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KHOST- The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) together with the Khost Killid Radio station is seeking to raise awareness for gender equality in the workplace.

Together, the UN and Killid have produced and broadcast programmes that highlight the benefits of more women participating in the workplace. The programming – led by women -- has been welcomed by women’s groups and common citizens in Khost province, a lowland and highly-traditional eastern Afghan province that rests alongside Pakistan’s troubled Waziristan region.

The UNAMA-backed series is broadcast twice a week by Khost Killid 88.2 FM, reaching an estimated 400,000 people in most districts of Khost, which also borders on the provinces of Paktya, Paktika, and Logar.

Local activists said that Killid Radio’s own hiring practices have been a positive influence in the Khost area. “When Killid Radio was in need of a female journalist, they put a search out and identified a qualified female journalist, Parwana Zaland, who has become an inspiration for all of us,” said Shamim Sanga, a women’s rights defender, who has remained a fan and regular listener of Killid Radio because of the female voices it promotes.

Nowra Jan Baheer, Director of the Khost Killid Radio, said that the station has attracted a much broader audience with Parwana Zaland’s on-air voice, expanding their already substantial media “footprint” across the province. Likewise, Ms. Sanga, the activist, said she recognizes importance of women’s engagement in media and had been trying to recommend and facilitate even more women’s participation in the press, including through talk shows and call ins. Radio represents the most popular form media in Khost, which is a largely isolated province surrounded by mountains, who residents learn about breaking news and social trends through local radio.

“If and when more women are allowed to communicate, we can begin to discuss the issues that most impact us,” she said. “We all will be more effective in discussing women issues by and for women. In some cases, radio can inspire women who are largely confined to their homes right now to stand up for their rights and take a more active role in society.”

Around ten national and international media institutions, led by radio stations, currently work in Khost Province, but women’s participation as hosts or radio station employees is limited due to perceptions, and qualifications. Tradition and local customs in the region often dictate that women remain at home and focus on family life without taking an active role in the workplace. While sometimes confined to their homes, these same women often also listen closely to local radio stations, which can play a positive role in advocating for gender equality.

Highlighting the significance of women’s participation in the media, another regular listener of Khost Killid Radio, Abdullah Mujahid, told the station that Killid radio presenter, Parwana Zaland, is also having a positive impact by enhancing calls for increased literacy across Khost Province. “Women working in media create a dialogue about the need to educate both girls and boys in the community,” he said, adding that more women should be allowed to become active in the media. “We are breaking down traditions that have preventing good educational practices,” he added.

UNAMA is mandated to support the Afghan Government and the people of Afghanistan as a political mission that provides 'good offices' among other key services. 'Good offices' are diplomatic steps that the UN takes publicly and in private, drawing on its independence, impartiality and integrity, to prevent international disputes from arising, escalating or spreading.

UNAMA also promotes coherent development support by the international community; assists the process of peace and reconciliation; monitors and promotes human rights and the protection of civilians in armed conflict; promotes good governance; and encourages regional cooperation.