Afghan Woman's Hour: providing support and advice

Radio show for Afghan women

Broadcast for five years from 2005-2010, weekly radio show Afghan Woman's Hour highlighted the role of women in Afghan society. It aimed to inspire women and girls to participate more fully in the rebuilding of their country.

Afghan Woman's Hour was launched as a platform for women's voices in society, and to deliver essential information to women to try to help them improve their daily lives.

Cutting across socio-economic and tribal boundaries, it sought to enable women to explore new ideas and find practical solutions to their problems.

Each week, 20 women journalists gathered stories, conducted interviews and recorded music from around the country. This content was then broadcast from Kabul in Dari and Pashto on the BBC World Service and by local radio stations all over Afghanistan as well as the state broadcaster Radio Television Afghanistan.

Debates, features and phone-ins covered issues such as forced marriage and domestic violence.

Real life

The programme's various segments looked into a wide variety of issues including inequality in the home, regional cooking, female role models in politics and business, drama and real life stories.

It offered information, advice and comfort to its listeners.

In rural areas, many women are unable to access or afford professional help to address the issues they face. So doctors, psychologists, social commentators and female politicians offered advice through Afghan Woman's Hour. The involvement of internationally successful Afghan women provided regular listeners with access to the voices and opinions of their country-women offering fellowship, advice and hope for potential change. 

Research by BBC Media Action found 55% of women surveyed had listened to the show. Another notable finding was that 39% of listeners were men; important, considering Afghanistan is a country with significant separation of the sexes and where men hold decision-making authority.

Delivering change

The programme had a real impact on listeners' lives. Of people who listened, 91% agreed that Afghan Woman's Hour helped them solve problems and 83% agreed that the programme inspired them to endeavour to change their own situation.

It was not just the listeners who were affected by the show as 65% of female listeners asked agreed that they often would talk about things they heard on the show with friends and family.

A major part of the Afghan Woman's Hour initiative was training women journalists and strengthening their ability to report on issues that concern them.

The project trained over 30 women journalists. It was hoped that the journalists' success would be reflected and recognised throughout Afghanistan in the communities to which they belong.

A journalist's handbook was also created to assist in the training and used to make Afghan Woman’s Hour of the highest journalistic integrity, a critical need for the programme to be trusted by its audience.

The team responsible for Afghan Woman's Hour won 'Team of the Year' at the first BBC World Service Awards in 2007.

Afghan Woman's Hour was supported by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Global Opportunity Fund and the European Union.

A major part of the initiative was training women journalists and strengthening their ability to report on issues that concern them
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