14.10.2010 -

Afghan Women Making the News: UNESCO exhibition and conference

In cooperation with Voices on the Rise, an Afghan association of women journalists, UNESCO organizes an exhibition of photographs by Khorshied Samad and Jane McElhone from 22 to 26 November 2010 at its Headquarters in Paris. Voices on the Rise: Afghan Women Making the News provides a look into the lives of Afghan women journalists, producers, managers, writers, photographers, filmmakers, human rights activists and parliamentarians.

To see the photos that will be displayed at the exhibition, visit our virtual <a target=_blank href="http://www.unesco-ci.org/photos/showgallery.php/cat/1053">photo gallery</a>.

Prior to the inauguration of the exhibition, a conference will take place, under the same title, with the participation of <a target=_blank href="http://www.unesco-ci.org/photos/showphoto.php/photo/6423/title/humaira-habib-2c-radio-sahar-station-manager-/cat/1053">Humaira Habib</a>, Head of a Women's Community Radio Station in Afghanistan, and <a target=_blank href="http://www.unesco-ci.org/photos/showphoto.php/photo/6416/title/afghan-civil-society-activist-horia-mosadiq-in-bamyan-2c-afghanistan-/cat/1053">Horia Mosadiq</a>, Afghan researcher for Amnesty International. The conference will discuss the significance of Afghan women journalists for the realisation of free media and the development of a stable democracy in Afghanistan. It will also focus on how to ensure women's security and protect them from any kinds of threat. The documentary film, Girls on the Air by Valentina Monti (60 minutes, in Dari with English subtitles), will be screened at the end of the conference. These events are being organized on the occasion of International Day of the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November).


A large number of Afghan women are currently working in journalism and communications. All of them are formally protected by Afghanistan's 2004 Constitution, which defines women as equal citizens and ensures that they are seen, heard and read about in the media. Afghanistan has signed the UN General Assembly 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which requires it to solicit and respect women's views on the country's laws, policies and practices.


However, Afghan women journalists still face societal barriers and cultural restrictions, hindering their work and participation in the public life. The vast majority of women, especially in the rural areas, still suffer one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, epidemic levels of illiteracy and unemployment, and human rights violations, including domestic violence, underage marriage and rape.


Media remain the strongest part of the country's civil society, and they are playing a progressive role in shaping modern Afghanistan. Radio, and more recently television, has contributed to the advent of stronger roles for Afghan women. Afghan female journalists continue their journalistic work, covering politics, business, security and health, while facing the risks of being threatened, maltreated, detained or even killed. Their efforts for freedom of expression and of the press have been acknowledged and supported by UNESCO, whose Member States designated gender equality as one of global priorities from 2008 to 2013. UNESCO expects that the upcoming conference and the exhibition will highlight the women journalists' activities and importance.


The preliminary agenda of the conference is available in PDF file below.

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