Somali women combat sexual harassment with new media group

Somali women combat sexual harassment with new media group
In an attempt to escape misogyny in Somali media, a group of female Somali journalists have founded a new organisation as a safe space away away from sexual harassment and unfair coverage of women's issues.
2 min read
12 April, 2022
Somali women journalists have faced harrassment and discrimination at work [Getty]

A female-only media organisation has been founded in Somalia to give women journalists opportunities to tell stories from their own perspective and avoid sexual harassment in newsrooms. 

The Somali Women Journalist Organisation is being funded by the United Nations Development Programme and will be based at Dalsan Media Group, one of the country’s largest media establishments, in the capital city Mogadishu.

With female journalists in Somalia complaining that they do not have enough freedom to make editorial decisions and are disrespected at work, one of the few female senior news reporters in the country began this project to bring autonomy and safety to women journalists.

“We want to cover these issues and challenge societal beliefs that women should stay at home,” said 27-year-old Nasrin Mohamed Ahmed, an editor-in-chief, according to The Guardian.  

“Men think you should come in, read the news and go home,” she added.

Ahmed had worked as a journalist for 12 years and is a founding member of the Somali Women Journalist Organisation, which is now a team of six.

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They plan to produce TV, radio and digital media content, focusing on women in politics and business, gender-based violence and other issues relating to women.

“We hope this will be a gamechanger for the Somali media scene, opening up new opportunities for women journalists and shining a light on subjects that have been ignored, particularly those that are important for women,” said Jocelyn Mason, the UNDP’s resident representative in Mogadishu.

She added that this will be a permanent project and hopes that it will branch out into other regions of the East African country.

Ahmed's deputy editor, Fathi Mohamed Ahmed (no relation), said the rife sexual harassment in the media industry in Somalia meant she resorted to different tactics to avert harassment from male colleagues.

“The biggest challenge facing female journalists in Somalia is abuse, especially from male journalists,” the 25-year-old media worker said, adding that her male colleagues had offered to assist but only in exchange for "something in return."

“Men have said things to me like, ‘you’re beautiful, I like your body’, and it was only when I said I was engaged that they stopped”, she recalled.