The Launch of a Women’s Radio Station in the City of Herat, Afghanistan

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This case study looks at the launch of a women’s radio station in the city of Herat, Afghanistan, in the year 2003. It follows four Afghan women journalists’ struggles in balancing the demands of a highly conservative culture on the one hand, and the objectives of their Canadian journalism trainers on the other.
Kamal explains that Media development takes on many different forms in different areas of the world. Rather than being a force for sustaining difference, the media is deliberately employed by media development organisations as a vehicle for challenging unequal gender relations. Women's rights and social justice are promoted in media content, and women's participation is often a precondition for funding for media projects. She
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While the radio station had officially been granted a licence from the Ministry of Information and Culture in Kabul, Ismail Khan's power base in the west was very strong, and the central government had very little power to enforce its policies in Herat. As a result, during the process of setting up the radio station, there was much concern when Ismail Khan chose not to offer any written guarantee that the operation would receive his sanction.
He was, however, an advocate of women's education. By describing the women's radio station as a tool for women's instruction and culture, and inviting the Canadian ambassador to Afghanistan to the radio station's launch, Radio Sahar was able to receive Ismail Khan's last minute support. Radio Sahar was launched in October 2003.
The women usually had very little time to prepare the shows; they would use the time available to them during the playing of songs or pre-packaged programmes to plan for the next day (and on all-too-frequent bad days, for the next half hour) of radio broadcasts. The designated host would pre-script introductions to shows when she could, and practise excerpts of poetry to declaim on the air, while the designated 'helpers' would call and invite guests to lecture, or participate in occasional roundtables. During their non-stop eight-hour

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