Kamal explains that Media development takes on many different forms in different areas of the world. Rather than being a force for sustaining difference, the media is deliberately employed by media development organisations as a vehicle for challenging unequal gender relations. Women's rights and social justice are promoted in media content, and women's participation is often a precondition for funding for media projects. She further argues how it is debatable whether the objectives of some gender and media development interventions are attainable.
So, in this case she discusses how, within the conservative but changing norms of post-Taliban Afghan society, a group of Afghan women became the founding members of Radio Sahar (Radio “Dawn”), the first independent women's radio station in Herat, Afghanistan, with the support of a Canadian media development organisation.
Kamal presents a relatively extreme case for gender and media development. The media reconstruction process has been rapid and far-reaching, transforming a country that had been under the virtual media blackout of the Taliban regime to having around 50 radio stations, six TV stations, several hundred publications, and five news agencies (Ishaq 2006). Afghan women, meanwhile, have shifted from extreme constraints on their mobility, and public invisibility, during the Taliban regime, to worldwide attention and political power in the reconstruction process. Bet...
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...and dismissed as such.
In essence, the women journalists' education and professionalism created barriers between their broadcasts and their intended female audience. But more fundamentally, the very rules of the conservative system that they meant to challenge forced them to accede to male-centred norms to be taken seriously. As women, they in effect reproduced, legitimised, and broadcast the male-centric culture that circumscribed their own actions in the studio room. Media and gender development, then, involves more than setting up women's radio stations. While often a useful tool for promoting gender equality, the media as a system can maintain inequality and be resistant to change. Gender and media objectives should be conceptualised with local understanding and expertise, long-term vision, and a more holistic approach for their interventions to be effective.
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