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Female-Only TV Station Hits Afghanistan Airwaves

Basira Joya, 20, presents a news program at Zan TV, the first-ever all-woman television channel
Basira Joya, 20, presents a news program at Zan TV, the first-ever all-woman television channel
Sadhi Khan Saif

KABUL — When a series of terrorist attacks rocked the Afghan capital late last month, killing more than 150, less than a kilometer away from worst blast, a group of women were busy preparing a morning show for the country's only TV station run by women.

Zan TV, or Women's TV, was launched this month, dedicated to women's voices and women's issues.

Since the end of Taliban rule in 2001, Afghanistan has gone from having just one state-owned TV station to 76 stations broadcasting across the country. But despite the proliferation of channels, women are often neglected by the Afghan media. For Basira Joya, a presenter at Zan TV, working at the new station is more than just a job. "We have been repeating slogans that women and men have equal rights, but in reality that's not the case," she said. "Our aim is to amplify the voices of women and girls, so we can make equality a reality."

Zan TV is trying to keep the staff entirely female, but this is no easy feat. Under Taliban rule, women were banned from working. Now women are back in the workplace but are still building up skills and experience, Joya says.

Our aim is to amplify the voices of women and girls, so we can make equality a reality.

"I had no working experience; when I found out that Zan TV was opening up, I was encouraged," Joya said. "My father and mother encouraged me too. My main objective is to be a good presenter and serve my nation in this way."

Gender discrimination and harassment are significant barriers for women in the workplace. But Joya is optimistic that Zan TV will create a space for women to thrive.

"Every year thousands of women graduate from journalism faculties, and it is great for women to come and get experience and training here."

For now, 54 out of the 70 staff members are women, with 16 men doing technical jobs. The station will provide technical and editorial training so that women can run all aspects of the programming.

Senior Editor Hosnia Mohaqiq says the response from women has been overwhelming. "Women and girls are increasingly interested to work for Zan TV, it gives them hope and encouragement, and when people with such motivation work, they work very well," she said.

After three months of off-air test transmissions, Zan TV officially started broadcasting on air last Saturday. It already has over 100,000 followers on Facebook.

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Geopolitics

Utter Pessimism, What Israelis And Palestinians Share In Common

Right now, according to a joint survey of Israelis and Palestinians, hopes for a peaceful solution of coexistence simply don't exist. The recent spate of violence is confirmation of the deepest kind of pessimism on both sides for any solution other than domination of the other.

An old Palestinian protester waves Palestinian flag while he confronts the Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the village of Beit Dajan near the West Bank city of Nablus.

A Palestinian protester confronts Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Beit Dajan on Jan. 6.

Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — Just before the latest outbreak of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, a survey of public opinion among the two peoples provided a key to understanding the current situation unfolding before our eyes.

It was a joint study, entitled "Palestinian-Israeli Pulse", carried out by two research centers, one Israeli, the other Palestinian, which for years have been regularly asking the same questions to both sides.

The result is disastrous: not only is the support for the two-state solution — Israel and Palestine side by side — at its lowest point in two decades, but there is now a significant share of opinion on both sides that favors a "non-democratic" solution, i.e., a single state controlled by either the Israelis or Palestinians.

This captures the absolute sense of pessimism commonly felt regarding the chances of the two-state option ever being realized, which currently appears to be our grim reality today. But the results are also an expression of the growing acceptance on both sides that it is inconceivable for either state to live without dominating the other — and therefore impossible to live in peace.

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