Iraq: New radio station for women goes on the air

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
BAGHDAD, 14 June (IRIN) - A radio station focusing on women's issues has hit the airwaves in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

Topics under discussion include the importance of women's rights and the new constitution, the forthcoming general election, childhood needs and family problems.

"The radio station is a voice for Iraqi women in the country, a voice to speak about her rights, her issues, her ambitions, her problems without hesitation," manager of the radio station, Majed Rahak, said.

Known as radio "al-Mahaba" meaning love in Arabic, the station is supported by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) programme.

The station was established by the Ministry of Municipality and Public Works (MMPW) working with local women's NGOs including the Iraqi Women's League (IWL), Women Rise (WR), General Student's Union (GSU) and the Flower of Iraq (FoI)

"This project aims to encourage, strengthen and support Iraqi women at all levels to know their rights, to enjoy equality and dignity and to define their future effectively by understanding international laws," a UNIFEM representative in Iraq, Besma al- Kateab, said.

Broadcasts started in April and the station has had a slow start but is now increasing programming.

"I listen to al-Mahaba radio every day. They have good programmes for women about life and rights in society," listener, Muna Ferhad said.

Transmitting for eight hours a day, the station presents a variety of material.

"We have good educational programmes, legal advice and many social discussions. We have interviewed famous Iraqi women and specialists in civil society," Rahak said.

The station employs both female and male, producers, trained journalists, technicians and musicians. It also gives young female talent a chance to shine.

"We are encouraging young women to come and display their talent here by showing off their art and handicrafts, reading poems and to advertise any training for women listening to the programmes," radio presenter, Niran Ali said.

Al-Mahaba radio now plans to increase transmission time and to extend its reach by broadcasting countrywide.


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