Somalia, the first all-women media company

In Somalia, the first all-women media company has opened, providing a once-in-a-lifetime chance for female journalists to study and publish the stories they want to tell.

The team of six, led by one of the country's few female senior news producers, will create programming for TV, radio, and internet media on topics such as gender-based violence, women in politics, and female entrepreneurs.

Most importantly, students will be able to make editing judgments without interference.

"We want to cover these topics and challenge cultural notions that women should stay at home," said Nasrin Mohamed Ahmed, the editor-in-chief of the Somali Women Journalist Organization, who has worked as a journalist for 12 years.

In Somalia, women in the media confront a variety of obstacles, including being ignored and denied promotions, as well as bullying and s£xual harassment. "Men assume you should come in, read the news, and then go," remarked Ahmed, 27.

Fathi Mohamed Ahmed (no related), Bilan's deputy editor, stated that harassment was rampant in the media industry, and she had to devise strategies to fend off attempts from male coworkers. "In Somalia, the biggest issue for female journalists is abuse, particularly from male journalists," she stated. "They promise to assist you, but only if you return the favour."

"Men have said things to me like, 'you're lovely, I admire your body,' and it wasn't until I told them I was engaged that they stopped."

Bilan, which means "bright and clear" in Somali, will be housed at Dalsan Media Group, one of the country's major media conglomerates, in Mogadishu. It will publish news and features, as well as provide training and mentoring from well-known Somali and international journalists such as the BBC's Lyse Doucet and Razia Iqbal, Channel 4's Lyndsey Hilsum, and Al Jazeera's Mohammed Adow. At two Mogadishu universities, six-month internships will be provided to the top final-year female journalism students.

The venture is a year-long pilot funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). "We hope this will be a gamechanger for the Somali media scene, opening up new opportunities for women journalists and shining a light on subjects that have been ignored, particularly those that are controversial," says Mason.


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