Thursday, May 7, 2009
In an earlier blogpost I wrote about the murder of 26 year old Uma Singh, a journalist in southeastern Nepal who was a champion for the rights of women. Her murder spotlighted Nepal's violent culture of impunity (Still no one has been charged with her murder although it was witnessed...the people are too afraid). Her murder was also viewed as an attempt to silence women journalists, and warn away young girls who might consider entering the profession.
Recently, however,the Nepali Times published a story about women journalists who continue to practice their profession despite or perhaps because of the danger. Go Girls!!!
There are several good stories in the article linked here: http://www.nepalitimes.com.np/issue/2009/05/7/Nation/15913/print
Here is an excerpt...
In Biratnagar, Radio Purbanchal is another all-female station which is trying to address the pressing problems of gender discrimination in the eastern Tarai. At Purbanchal, the only man is the security guard. Station manager Kamala Kadel is a 55-year-old mother who used to be a social worker before starting the radio to empower women through grassroots communications. The station's reach has grown in the past two years, reaching 75 per cent of households in Sunsari and Morang with close to one million regular listeners. There are around 40 community level organisations affiliated to the station and 2,000 households contributed funds and start-up capital.
The station employs 18 journalists and studio technicians, all 20-30 year olds from disadvantaged communities. Some are students like Lalima Ragbanshi who divides her time between her studies and working as a radio technician. "I'm excited to be in this environment where there's so much room for growth," says the 21-year-old.
Others are housewives like Uma Thapa who finds satisfaction and freedom working beyond the domestic domain and Gita Biswas, the co-host of the news and agricultural program Kakram Hama Samacht (Our Society) whose husband has now taken over the housework.
Daily news bulletins are aired in four languages: Nepali, Tharu, Urab and Santhali. "Most radio stations broadcast news in Nepali and this is problematic for other ethnic communities who don't understand the language,"
says Urab news presenter Mahamaya Urab.
Other programs include children's education, labour and employment forums, with the most popular, The Voice of Labour, reaching out to 400 businesses in the district.
"What keeps us going is our desire to spread greater awareness about the rights and situation of Tarai women, who are restrained by social deprivation in education, economic and health care aspects," says radio journalist Durga Sapkota, "community radio can be a powerful agent of change."
Asked about how the murder of radio journalist Uma Singh in Janakpur affected women reporters, Kamala says it highlights the critical working conditions that women journalists face.
She added: "We're saddened but unbeaten. There's nothing to fear if we're united."