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Breaking the bias in Afghanistan: A radio station for women returns to the airwaves

Mursal Abrar, Humanitarian project manager, BBC Media Action Afghanistan

Breaking the bias in Afghanistan: A radio station for women returns to the airwaves

After six months of silence, Hareem Zan - a radio station run by women, for women - is back on air. Our humanitarian project manager Mursal Abrar tells the story.

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  • Saving for a brighter future - aged 13 and against the odds

    Mariama Sesay

    Lead Producer, BBC Media Action Sierra Leone

    “At age 13 on a rainy day, I sat on my wheelchair shivering with a plastic bag covering some part of my body. An idea crossed my mind that I could change my current situation”

    Aminata Tholley told us that when she was little, she would go out in the streets begging from people passing by in private and commercial vehicles, just to survive. In Sierra Leone it is common for people living with disabilities, especially young girls and women, to beg for money in big cities and towns. We met Aminata in Freetown during the production of our radio programme Wae Gyal Pikin Tinap (When a Girl Child Stands).

    She told us that it was very tough for her going out everyday and returning in the evening during the hot, dry and dusty season and even worse during rainy seasons. Her struggle would mostly make her feel sad, she described living with a disability, struggling to make a livelihood, and how often people looked down at her and made her feel like she wasn’t fit to be within society.


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  • Developing media after civil war: How BBC Media Action is working to support South Sudan's media

    Garang Abraham Malak

    Training Coordinator - Life in Lulu project

    In the months and years following civil war, media and communication have a central role to play in bridging divides, by providing space for dialogue, and building understanding and knowledge.

    In South Sudan, tensions still flare despite the 2018 peace agreement that formally ended its multi-sided civil war. Yet the country’s media industry, so important in reconciling communities, is at serious risk. Early in 2022, a prominent South Sudanese civil society activist called on the donor community to fund media projects in the country, warning that media practitioners are quitting their professions due to the decline in funding.

    Edmund Yakani, who heads the Community Empowerment for Progress Organisation (CEPO), said that emerging media houses don’t last, due to lack of funding, censorship and the poor salaries associated with a media career in South Sudan.

    Yakani’s statement is supported by our recent 2021 assessment of numerous media house partners as part of our Life in Lulu radio programme and associated activities.

    Weeks or months without operating

    We discovered that due to lack of funds, some media houses may go for days, weeks or months without operating. Others have had to…

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  • Women and Climate Change

    Kristine Skarsvåg

    Guest blogger from CONFER

    Photo credit: Diana Njeru, Marsabit, Northern Kenya/BBC Media Action

    This was originally posted by CONFER on 8th March 2022 – read here.

    Climate Change is a global challenge that affects all people, regardless of ethnicity, gender, or geography. Even though it affects us all, it does not, however, affect us in the same way. Climate change does not care about gender, and although women and men are in theory just as likely to be affected by climate change, the impact of climate change is not the same. Women are increasingly more vulnerable to climate change due to economic, social, political, and cultural factors.

    Social, economic and cultural factors

    Women and men have different roles in many parts of the world, and women’s work is typically not visible in the country’s GDP. In Uganda for example, women account for a lot less of the human capital wealth compared to men (39% vs. 61%). Furthermore, many societies prevent women from owning land and having their own capital, and they are therefore financially dependent. In addition, women’s livelihoods are…

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  • Breaking the bias in Afghanistan: A radio station for women returns to the airwaves

    Mursal Abrar

    Humanitarian project manager, BBC Media Action Afghanistan

    I vividly remember  the month of September 2021. After the collapse of the former government, I was receiving numerous calls and invitations from different humanitarian coordination teams, asking me to participate in meetings and raise the concerns of female aid workers on the ground.

    To gather information, I attempted several calls to reach out to women who were working in humanitarian aid  in many provinces. But I couldn’t reach them. The majority of them had already left the country, and others were caged at home due to their fear of persecution.

    The challenge intensified when reports…

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  • Disability is not ‘inability’: girls making waves in Sierra Leone

    Mariama Sesay

    Lead Producer, BBC Media Action Sierra Leone

    Madi Sefoi featured as a co-host on our radio show in Sierra Leone

    “I sometimes used to sit and cry but then feel determined at the same time to change my situation from what society perceives [about] people living with disability – that we’re not able to do anything in life. Some parents [even] refer to their disabled children as ‘half pikin’ (half child),” Madi Sefoi tells our radio presenter Marian Tina Conteh.

    In Sierra Leone, many people live with different…

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  • 'It was as if the moon had landed on the Earth' - working through turmoil in Afghanistan

    Shoaib Sharifi

    Country Director, BBC Media Action Afghanistan

    Shoaib Sharifi is BBC Media Action’s country director in Afghanistan and this year’s BBC News Leader of the Year. He writes about how the team are responding to an increasingly grave humanitarian crisis.

    On the morning of 15 August, I stood in front of my closet and chose one of my sharpest Western-style suits to wear to the office. To this day, I cannot explain why – except that nothing suggested that this day would be very different from the day before.

    In the office, the workday began as usual, with preparation for a training session with humanitarian aid workers. But by 11 o’clock that…

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  • Off the beaten track in South Sudan: taking action to support women's rights

    Silvia Boarini

    Senior project manager, BBC Media Action South Sudan

    Mama Lia, far left, is shown with her family at her home in Joppa, South Sudan. Credit: BBC Media Action

    As our Land Cruiser leaves the tarmac at Gudele, on the edge of Juba, and takes a right somewhere onto a dirt path, I am reminded there are only about 220km of paved roads in South Sudan, and most of them are here in Juba.

    It isn’t really a surprise, then, that after driving just 15 minutes from our office, we find ourselves a world away from the bustling city and heading directly into the bush.


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  • Brave dreams: Klahan9 is inspiring young people in Cambodia

    Sol Saovady

    Project manager, Klahan9 Cambodia

    "I regret not continuing my studies because now I can’t find a good job like those with high education and skills and am stuck working as a labourer." - 24-year-old Vuthy.

    Vuthy lives with his parents who are street vendors in Phnom Penh. His parents weren't making enough money to support their family, so he had to drop out of school when he was 10 years old to help. Now, without having completed his education, he has found himself restricted to low-skilled jobs.

    He isn't alone – many young Cambodians, who make up almost half of Cambodia’s workforce, face challenges integrating into the labour…

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  • Meet Suspilne: a rebranded, modern broadcaster in Ukraine

    Julie Boutros

    Project manager, Eastern Europe

    The excitement was palpable when UA:PBC’s executives and board members gathered with ambassadors, dignitaries and representatives of BBC Media Action and our partner Deutsche Welle Akademie earlier this month, to present a dynamic modern newsroom that will form the central hub for the re-branded public broadcaster, Suspilne (Public).

    ‘(The) revolution on Maidan in 2014, just a few metres from…

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  • A radio lifeline: supporting Ethiopia’s rural communities through climate change

    Mian Muhammad Junaid

    Country Director BBC Media Action Ethiopia

    Ethiopia faces severe challenges from extreme weather linked to climate change, and environmental problems linked to human activity. As COP approaches, our Ethiopia country director explores the role of media and communication in reaching the country’s remote and rural population with solutions and support.

    As Africa’s second-most populous country, and with 80% of its 117 million people living in rural areas, largely reliant on agriculture, Ethiopia faces a future of severe challenges from climate change.

    The country already faces recurrent droughts, and its water resources are under severe…

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