Situation of women journalists: notes from a study by IAWRT Afghanistan

Following the upheaval in Afghanistan on 15 August 2021 and the rise of the Islamic Emirate, the situation of journalists and the media in the country came to a halt and unimaginable restrictions were imposed on them. Afghanistan’s media outlets are on the brink of a meltdown as they face shortage of funding following the takeover. According to a survey conducted by Reporters without Borders (RSF) in December 2021, there were 10,790 people working in Afghan media (8,290 men and 2,490 women) at the start of August 2021, but only 4,360 (3,950 men and 410 women) were still working and the number may reduce even further.

As women disappear from the public sphere, Afghan women journalists are vanishing at a rapid pace. Of the total number of women journalists in 2020, only 5% live and work in Kabul since the de facto authorities took back the political power. In August 2021, the Taliban movement, took control of Afghanistan. This power shift followed a major escalation, as the de facto authorities’ control of the country led international donors to immediately suspend most development funding and freeze billions of dollars’ worth of assets.

IAWRT-Afghanistan was also affected by the unexpected political transformation in Afghanistan. The top management of IWART-Afghanistan chapter including the head of the chapter, its board members consist of senior journalists and women rights activists and the associated members of the organization left the country to save their lives and get better protection in exile after they received threats to death or were frightened of the uncertain situation at home.

The IAWRT-Afghanistan chapter is supposed to temporary operate in exile as most members of the chapter have settled in the states. The temporary operation of IAWRT-Afghanistan chapter will continue until situation in Afghanistan is stable and back to normal. There has to be sufficient protection means in place and certain protocols and guarantees from the ruling administration for the chapter to resume its activities in Afghanistan. The evacuation process of IAWRT-Afghanistan members began in late August, 2021 when the head of the chapter and some members were threatening by the Taliban at their residents or at the work places.

Here are some images of the evacuation process:

Finally, they are in the US: