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Female-run Syrian TV Seeks to Empower Women


All-Female TV Station Goes on the Air in Syria
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All-Female TV Station Goes on the Air in Syria

Jin TV — which means Women TV in the Kurdish language — is the first television station in Syria run entirely by women. The station began officially broadcasting late last month and aims to provide a platform for women to raise their voices.

"This TV was established to shed light on the role of women in all walks of life because women are always marginalized and confined to limited roles, even though women are the foundation of the society," Dalsha Othman, chief of the Arabic division at Jin TV, told VOA.

Managers of the new station say their content will give a voice to women and put a spotlight on issues that affect women in Syria and the region.

The TV station is located in the Kurdish-controlled town of Amude in northeastern Syria.

Broadcasts will be multilingual and multicultural; the programs will air in Kurdish, Arabic, Turkish and Farsi.

Currently, there are 18 staff members at the TV station, and the plan is to add workers in the future.

Countering extremism

Amude is a town in Al Hasakah Governorate in northeastern Syria. Large parts of Al Hasakah was once controlled by the Islamic State terror group when the group expanded its presence in large swaths of land in Iraq and Syria in 2014.

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, a force of Kurdish and Arab fighters, expelled IS militants from the region and liberated the town.

Kurdish female fighters in the YPJ (Women's Protection Units), a brigade fighting with the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), played a key role in defeating IS in northeastern Syria, including Amude.

At the peak of its rule, approximately 10 million people lived under IS control in Iraq and Syria. The terror group committed large-scale atrocities against civilians and sought to indoctrinate them with its ideology.

Jin TV aims to counter that and increase awareness among women to prevent future attempts by extremists to recruit women by luring them through propaganda.

Jiyan Heve, a founding member of Jin TV, said that one of the station's goals is to provide a platform for female victims of terror groups such as IS so that they can talk about the atrocities and the true nature of these militant groups.

"We seek to counter the terrorist propaganda, and Jin TV is a good platform for doing that," she told VOA.

Experts believe that women can play a key role in preventing extremism and radicalism in communities around the world.

According to a report published in April 2018 by Georgetown University's Institute for Women, Peace and Security, women are considered a community's gatekeepers who can play a vital role in countering extremism.

"Identifying, empowering and consulting credible women leaders is a crucial part of creating sustainable deradicalization and rehabilitation programs that address individual and community needs," the report said.

Stereotypes

Everyone at the new broadcast operation is seeking to change stereotypes about women's capacity and their role in the society.

Dilav Hori, a video editor at Jin TV, said she wanted to help change perceptions about women.

"We women at Jin TV are trying to disperse the traditional notion about women's ability to rely on themselves on their own. We want women to be confident and know that running a TV [station] is not something difficult," Hori told VOA.

Jin TV is the second all-female station in the region. In 2017, Zan TV began broadcasting in Afghanistan with the aim of empowering women there.

Dalsha Othman, chief of the Arabic division at Jin TV, said they already receive videos and content produced by women from several countries in the region. The ultimate goal, she said, is to connect women from different parts of the world.

"Although our channel is Kurdish, we want to establish a bridge for women in the world to communicate, share and support each other," Othman said.

VOA's Zana Omar contributed to this report from Amude.

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