Social Issues

Bilan, Somalia’s first all-women media outlet

Mogadishu, May 7 (EFE).- Bilan is Somalia’s first media outlet with an all-female newsroom that aims to provide information by and about women despite the obstacles they face.

The project, promoted by the United Nations Development Program, was born on 11 April to open a safe space against all forms of harassment that women journalists suffer on a daily basis in the African country.

“Female journalists suffer harassment at work and on the streets,” Jocelyn Mason, UNDP representative in Somalia tells Efe.

She added that women journalists were often deprived of decision-making powers, meaning their stories and voices do not get the coverage they deserve.

Bilan is based in Mogadishu’s fortified Green Zone, which houses the facilities of international organizations.

The new media outlet will broadcast its television, radio and text content through one of the country’s largest media groups, although it also wants to close agreements with international media.

Against a backdrop of extremist violence and political tensions in the country, Bilan intends to shed a spotlight on silenced stories that affect the daily lives of Somali women.

“Now we have the confidence to carry out our work and change society’s perception of women journalists,” Bilan’s director, Nasrin Mohamed Ibrahim, tells Efe at the media’s facilities in Mogadishu.

“We have space to operate freely and choose our topics with full editorial control,” Ibrahim says.

The team, made up of six journalists from different parts of the country, wants to address a wide range of stories from the role of women in the economy to the different types of violence they suffer.

They have struggled to carry out the profession that they are passionate about.

“Co-workers harassed us (…), they directly asked us for sexual favors and had stereotypes about us,” the director tells Efe.

Families often do not approve of women pursuing a profession with so much public exposure.

Ibrahim, however, has broken with the prejudices that weigh on Somali women, not only through her 12-year journalism career but also by creating her own women’s soccer team.

Bilan wants to be more than a media outlet offering professional opportunities to Somali women as it includes a training program for reporters and internships.

“Now we are six but we will increase the team and we will be an example for other female journalists in Somalia,” Ibrahim confidently predicts. EFE


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