Bilan, Somalia’s first female-run news organization, opened in Mogadishu. The organization wants to put attention on all interesting stories, particularly women’s challenges, by serving as a platform for female newsmakers. The media unit will produce online material for both radio and television with a crew of six women, one editor, and five journalists.
“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,” Fathi Mohamed Ahmed, Bilan’s Deputy Editor has stated.
The Somali word “Bilan” means “bright and clear,” and it is part of the Dalsan Media Group, a big Somali media conglomerate. The stories of Bilan will be retold on Dalsan’s platforms as well as in foreign media.
The launch of the project came after the United Nations’ six-month investigation into women’s roles in Somali media. The majority of journalists interviewed by the UN said they were harassed in the workplace, denied essential training and promotions, and were disregarded by male colleagues even when they worked in senior positions.
For Bilan journalists, this is the first time in Somalia that women have entire control over their stories, from conception to publishing.
The UN’s development programme UNDP is funding the project. Jocelyn Mason, the agency’s Resident Representative in Mogadishu, mentioned the hopes that the project will become permanent and expand to other regions. She also said that this project is a game-changer for Somali media and will open up new opportunities for women journalists as well!