Informing Afghans about their Elections
In April of 2014, and then again in June, Afghans stunned the world as they came out to the polls in drove, defying Taliban threats to vote in the country's first-ever democratic transfer of power.
The high national turnout in both the April and June run-off votes can be attributed in part to the informed and unbiased elections coverage found in local and national elections reporting, something noticeably absent during the previous election in 2009, when international news served as the only reliable source of information.
A young woman, Wahida Faizi was one of the journalists who had been trained by Internews' Afghan Capacity for Media and Elections program to report on the elections. She and another young reporter – Sofia Mohammadzai – along with several other reporters at radio network Salam Watandar, received awards from the Independent Elections Commission in late 2014 for their outstanding elections coverage.
"I think the training has made a huge difference to my career," said reporter Faizi. "I am proud to have been recognized for my work."
"My family was not happy that I wanted to work in the media but I am pleased that I was able to convince them because I have been able to learn so much about being a journalist, as well as make a contribution to Afghan society," she added.
Both Faizi and Mohammadzai underwent training and mentorship at Salam Watandar's Kabul headquarters, a time during which they said their work showed noticeable improvement.
Even as interns, Salam Watandar Editor-in-Chief Najib Amiri said, the two young women demonstrated remarkable talent as well as commitment to their profession.
"They work hard and they work late – which is actually quite difficult for a woman in Afghanistan – but they were absolutely committed to reporting on the electoral process," he said.
"I am so pleased for them because they deserve this recognition for their hard work. I am so proud and I wish them every success!"
Internews' elections program in Afghanistan is supported by the Australian Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Banner photo: Women casting their ballots in the Afghanistan election. (Credit: Internews)