By Emily Thompson
A private Facebook group allows Afghan women to freely speak about issues that matter to them.
Heard It From Her, produced by Emily Thompson, is a conversation with women in the media with a story to tell. Each month, we speak with a journalist from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) or other independent media in our broadcast region to talk about her reporting, the issues she confronts, and the political, societal and cultural context in which she works.
In this episode, we spoke with Malali Bashir, a journalist with RFE/RL’s Afghan Service. Named a Twitter Power User at the 2015 Afghan Social Media Summit, Malali is one of the most visible journalists on Afghan social media, but she needed a better way to engage with Afghan women online, where an opinion expressed by a woman can result in a barrage of bullying, harassment or even blackmail.
So she created a private Facebook group for approved members called Bandar, or The Get Together, where Afghan women have been discussing everything from access to education to street harassment. Their frank discussions regularly make it out of the group and into traditional media when journalist group members report them, and people in rural Afghanistan without access to the internet can join the conversation. But there has also been a backlash in traditional media, with some men denouncing the group as “unwomanly.”
Emily Thompson manages Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Lady Liberty project, which showcases the work of women journalists and women’s issues in RFE/RL’s broadcast region. She has an MA in Philology from Masaryk University, Czech Republic and a BA in English and French Literature from Kansas State University, United States.
Featured Image Credits: Visual Hunt