An all-female media house funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has launched in Somalia.
The project is named Bilan – which means ‘bright’ and ‘clear’ – and is aimed at providing a space where female media professionals can work with real decision-making authority and be free from harassment.
The media house will be managed entirely by women with full editorial independence and will produce stories for TV, radio and online media.
Nasrin Mohamed Ibraham, Bilan’s chief editor, said: “For too long, Somali women journalists have been treated as second-class citizens and Somali news has ignored the stories and voices of half the population. Now we are in charge of the boardroom and the narrative. Some people might not like the fact that I play football and lead a media team. But nobody will ever change my mind.”
Fathi Mohamed Ahmed, Bilan’s deputy editor, added: “As a women-only media house, we are going to be able to bring taboo subjects into the open. Our sisters, mothers and grandmothers will talk to us about issues they never dare speak about with men.”
Jocelyn Mason, UNDP’s resident representative in Mogadishu, said: “We hope this will be a game-changer for the Somali media scene, opening up new opportunities for women journalists and shining a light on new subjects that have been ignored, particularly those that are important for women.”
There will be a long-term programme of training and mentoring for Somali women journalists, as well as an offer of six-month internship opportunities for the best final-year female journalism students at two universities in Mogadishu.
The Bilan project will be housed inside the Mogadishu offices of Somalia’s Dalsan Media Group, with content distributed through Dalsan’s existing platforms and also pitched to international outlets worldwide.