How Women in Afghanistan Are Reshaping the Media Landscape

A group of audacious Afghani entrepreneurs are redefining the role of women in the workplace, and are bravely putting themselves front and center.

Apr 24, 2019

(Maximum Exposure PR /

Over the past several years a quiet resistance has been planted in post-Taliban Afghanistan. The revolutionaries? A group of resilient women who are making significant strides in the media industry.

In a country where 17 years ago women were not allowed to leave their houses, they are now running their own media companies, such as Zan TV, a female-only broadcasting network made up of 50 female anchors and producers.

“Women produce, women do the scripts, women direct, and women present all the content,” says Hamid Samar, the founding director of Zan TV.

Being involved in this new game-changing era does not come without its cost, however, and some of the women in the Afghani media have had serious threats made against them and their families. Despite the odds stacked against them, these women show up to work day in, day out determined to inspire women across Afghanistan.

And it's working. According to Zohra Walid Rehmani, a feminist and academic, Afghani society is embracing a more inclusive role of women in the workplace.

“We can see how it is OK to give jobs to women at restaurants; we see more doctors and nurses hired; we see fewer women with that ugly blue garb,” she says. “This incredible change comes from how progressive channels like Zan TV represent women. In fact, they are educating Afghanistan about women’s place in the country.”

Fatana Hassanzda is one of the women leading this new era. She began her career as a news presenter in 2009 when she was just 16 years old. The Taliban still held power in some regions of Afghanistan, but progressive niches were popping up determined to build a new country. Hassanzda joined the workforce as part of the movement towards equality. These days, Hassanzda is the editor-in-chief of Gallara, the country’s first lifestyle magazine for women.

Soniya Azatyar, a freelance journalist in Kabul, explains how the media is a powerful tool in affecting meaningful change in Afghani society.

“Fighting in the house for me is much harder,” she says. “I can get grounded [restricted] and never be allowed to leave. But I can go out there and create content that not only my brothers but my entire neighborhood, my city, can watch. Slowly and indirectly if I can reach them, I can change their minds.”

These bold and courageous women are not only hard-working entrepreneurs; they are activists who seek to completely change the rules of the game. They are walking and breathing examples to both men and women throughout Afghanistan that misogyny and female repression will no longer be accepted.

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Hilla Benzaken is a dedicated optimist. Her happy place involves cooking, acting, gardening, and fighting for social justice. She writes about all things sustainability, innovation, and DIY.