Today’s Solutions: March 03, 2024

Somalia is preparing to launch its first-ever current affairs TV show led by women. The pioneering show, created by Bilan, the country’s only all-female media team, represents a dramatic shift in a male-dominated media sector.

Pushing boundaries on Somali airwaves

Bilan, founded in 2022 with United Nations Development Programme backing, has emerged as a beacon of change in a traditionally male-dominated media sector. Bilan, led by Nasrin Mohamed Ibrahim, one of the country’s few female senior news producers, has played a critical role in giving a platform for women to voice their stories authentically.

The new show’s monthly concept, reminiscent of the UK’s BBC Question Time, will take the discussions to various sites across the country, enabling audience members to actively participate in conversations on important and often sensitive topics. It will make its debut on March 8, 2024, which is International Women’s Day.

Changing the paradigm: a female-driven panel

Bilan’s show stands out for its commitment to having a panel of at least 50 percent women. This move seeks to disrupt prevailing norms and promote a more open and representative debate about crucial issues confronting Somali society.

Addressing taboos: periods and politics

The show’s agenda includes a variety of difficult themes, such as the shortage of female teachers and the challenges that women confront when joining politics. Bilan’s show strives to spark discussions that are frequently ignored in mainstream media by confronting such issues head-on.

A successful trial in December, in which the panel reviewed period teaching in schools, demonstrated the devastating effect of a lack of information on women’s health. The show’s host, Naima Said Salah, recalled a moving event in which a young woman in the audience expressed confusion and fear during her first menstrual period owing to a lack of information.

Proudly debunking myths: navigating period education

Salah was proud of putting the topic of periods into public conversation, saying, “People think this is taboo, but it is a fact; it exists, and we cannot ignore it.” The conversation drew light on the issues that girls experience, emphasizing the importance of community support and education at this critical time.

Bilan, which has won EU funding for the next three years, plans to expand into federal states by 2024. The strategy includes hiring 20 new journalists and providing funds for investigative reports to an additional 10. This extension seeks to increase the effect of women-led journalism, offering a broader viewpoint on subjects that are frequently overlooked in the male-dominated media industry.

In a media industry riddled with discrimination and harassment, Bilan exemplifies the transforming impact of creating a safe environment for women to express their experiences. As Nasrin Mohamed Ibrahim asserted, “Women will speak to us because we too are women. They will allow us into their homes, their prayer rooms, and their private spaces.”

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