All-women news source launches in Somalia to cover inequality | The Optimist Daily
Today’s Solutions: July 12, 2024

Journalism used to be called the Fourth Estate, referring to its political and societal influence within a country. It has the power to expose injustices and sound a call to action from the people. Finding solutions to endemic problems often starts by identifying them in the media. For a fair society, there must then be fair representation in the media. 

An all-women news source started in Somalia to address the issues of inequality in their country. 

Clarity in news

Currently, women are very unrepresented in Somali journalism and face disrespect and even abuse from their male counterparts. One of the few senior news producers in the country decided to address the endemic gender inequality and bias by founding Bilan, which means “bright” or “clear” in Somali. 

Bilan is based in Mogadishu, the country’s capital. A current team of six female journalists will produce content for television, radio, and online media. They’ll cover important issues often overlooked in male-produced Somali media such as gender-based violence, women in politics, and female entrepreneurs.

“We want to cover these issues and challenge societal beliefs that women should stay at home,” said the editor-in-chief, Nasrin Mohamed Ibrahim, who has worked as a journalist for 12 years and is a founding member of the Somali Women Journalist Organization.

Progress for Somali news and women 

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) provided funding for Bilan as a pilot program. “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 important for women,” said Jocelyn Mason, UNDP’s resident representative in Mogadishu.  

While expanding the scope of news in Somalia, and bringing much-needed attention to important issues, Bilan will also mentor new female journalists, expanding its workforce and reach while providing economic opportunities to Somali women. 

One of the new team’s members grew up in the “bush,” the term for the countryside in Somalia, where journalism “doesn’t exist,” and economic opportunities for women are slim. Another team member was raised in a refugee camp in Kenya. This new addition to the Somali Fourth Estate is already having a positive impact on the country. 

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