Badakhshan journalists strategize on media’s role in building community cohesion

22 Aug 2017

Badakhshan journalists strategize on media’s role in building community cohesion

FAIZABAD - In the northeast region of Afghanistan, the United Nations is working with local radio and television to engage local communities in the interest of building support for reducing conflict, fighting corruption and advancing peace.

In an event last week, the Faizabad office of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) brought senior journalists together from the northeastern Badakshan province to discuss ways to build stronger community ties.

Nine journalists, four of them women, attended the meeting, the second of three such meetings planned with media professionals across the northeast region. The main aim of the gathering was to discuss issues around local conflict, including corruption, and strategize on possible ways to mobilize communities toward peace.

In addition to discussing the media’s role in bringing about peace, the journalists focused on the access to information law, its implementation in their communities, and other issues affecting peace, including corruption and justice.

The meeting’s participants also discussed ways to address the challenges they face each day as working journalists. “Critical security conditions and threats against journalists have resulted in self-censorship in local media, and have negatively affected proper reporting, especially on corruption and violence against women,” said Samiulla Saihoon, a journalist in Badakhshan.

With regard to the issue of accurate reporting in the interest of fostering community cohesion, the group strategized on ways to use radio and television as a platform for civic discussions, and discussed at length the issue of women working as journalists in Badakhshan media.

According to the meeting participants, in the past three years alone, some 30 to 40 women have graduated from the journalism faculty of Badakhshan University, but only a small number of these graduates are working in local media outlets.

“Threats, unemployment, discrimination and harmful traditions are the main challenges faced by female journalists in the province,” said Munizha Rasooli, a representative from the Afghan Women Journalists Association in Badakhshan.

Expressing similar concerns, Najia Soroush, the head of Banwan Radio, a local outlet, spoke about the necessity of fostering community cohesion. “Though we, women journalists, face serious challenges and obstacles, we are committed to work for peace and prosperity in our war-torn community,” she said.

UNAMA has been working with media not only in the country’s east, but also in other parts of Afghanistan, to provide media workers with an opportunity to network, share their experiences, and most importantly bring communities together through accurate news and reporting.

UNAMA is mandated to support the Afghan Government and the people of Afghanistan as a political mission that provides 'good offices' among other key services. 'Good offices' are diplomatic steps UN takes publicly and in private, drawing on its independence, impartiality and integrity, to prevent international disputes from arising, escalating or spreading.

UNAMA also promotes coherent development support by the international community; assists the process of peace and reconciliation; monitors and promotes human rights and the protection of civilians in armed conflict; promotes good governance; and encourages regional cooperation.