Female journalists identify Taliban restrictions as major barrier to their careers

File Photo.

Female journalists in Afghanistan report the Taliban as a big obstacle to their careers, citing widespread restrictions imposed by the group. These journalists have highlighted limited cooperation from some Taliban officials regarding access to information.

The Afghanistan Journalist Support Organization disclosed that out of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, there are no female journalists in 19. The organization has estimated the current number of female media employees or journalists active in the media sector.

The situation is exacerbated by criticisms from some journalists towards media support organizations for not adequately addressing incidents of violence by the Taliban against them. Hawa Azada Mirzayi, who turned to journalism after being denied university education by the Taliban, shared her experience. She has primarily focused on reporting violence against women and children, but the Taliban’s ongoing restrictions have hindered her work.

“The restrictions on media activities are increasing. I don’t feel safe when I go out to cover news, to the extent that I avoid using my cell phone outside, fearing the Taliban might see me,” she explained. “The challenge extends to the subjects I cover; I fear the repercussions. My interactions are mostly with women and girls, sharing their experiences of violence.”

Journalists in Afghanistan face numerous challenges, including limited access to information, unsafe working conditions, and economic difficulties. Sahila Yousufzai, a member of the Afghanistan Journalist Support Organization, reported that fewer than 600 women are currently employed in the media across the country.

Meanwhile, Afghan media workers and journalists in exile in Iran have protested the lack of visa extensions by their host country and the apparent neglect by media support organizations. Ahmad Khali, an Afghan journalist in exile, emphasized the severe challenges faced by Afghan journalists, including economic hardship and limited job opportunities. He urged the international community to support journalists in exile.

In a related development, it was reported that the Taliban’s minister of vice and virtue instructed media organization heads to ensure women do not appear on screen with bare foreheads, underscoring the restrictive measures imposed on media practices.