Afghan Women Get Own Radio Voice
Afghanistan's first independent community FM radio station managed and operated by women is now on the air in Kabul with test transmissions. The Voice of Afghan Women, broadcasting on a frequency of 91.6 MHz with a power of 600 watts, commenced test programmes at 14:15hrs on Thursday 6th March, 2003.
The station has been developed with funding from the UNESCO Kabul office and is due to be officially opened on International Women's Day, the 8th March.
The community radio station is managed and run by the Voice of Afghan Women in Global Media (VAWGM), a national NGO of women media professionals which was also established with support from UNESCO. The first woman's voice on the radio station during its opening test transmission was that of Jamila Mujahid, President of the VAWGM. The station's Director is Fakhria Sorosh, another VAWGM member. A UNESCO produced CD of traditional and popular Afghan music featuring women vocalists from Herat was the first music to be heard on the air.
"It was a very exciting and inspirational moment" said UNESCO Kabul Director, Martin Hadlow. "We switched on the transmitter, tuned our radios to 91.6 MHz and the sound came though loud and clear". The studio equipment and FM transmitter were manufactured by Mallard Concepts of the U.K. Tragically, the supplier, Martin Allard, passed away before he could travel to Kabul to install the equipment. That task fell to a UNESCO-funded Jordanian consultant, Khuzaima El-Jallad, who undertook a mission to Afghanistan at very short notice to ensure that the 8th March deadline could be met.
"This station is unique in Afghanistan" said Hadlow, "and it's symbolic that it should commence full operations on International Women's Day. It gives women their own voice and will also add greatly to the on-going development of a free press environment in the country".
After the Voice of Afghan Women is officially inaugurated, it will go on air daily with educational, development-based and entertainment programmes of interest to the entire community. While women's issues and activities will constitute the bulk of its programming, the station will have a broad-based approach. Craft-skills training for the station's announcers and producers has been provided by IMPACS and INTERNEWS, two international media NGO's operating in Afghanistan.
UNESCO Kabul has supplied another FM station to Kabul University's Faculty of Journalism. The studio has been installed and transmissions are expected to get underway shortly. The two radios are the first new community stations to be established in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001.
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