This story is part of Counterpart’s 16 Days of Activism series. This year’s global theme is “Invest to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls.” At Counterpart, our women’s empowerment team partners year-round with women leaders around the world, ensuring they have the training, means, and support to break cycles of violence and discrimination, and give them a voice within their communities. During the 16 Days Campaign, we will be sharing just a few of their incredible stories.
Najiba Muram grew up in a conservative community in eastern Afghanistan. Muram and her sisters were the only girls attending school in a community where most girls were not allowed to pursue an education. She scored the highest marks and was first in her class while studying literature. She dreamed of working in media and joined the Bakhtar News Agency in 1984. Ultimately, she obtained a degree in journalism from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication through a scholarship.
While her career advanced beyond expectations, her personal life was not as lucky. She got engaged, but her fiancé went missing during the civil war and wasn’t located for ten years. Muram was displaced internally and was later a refugee in neighboring countries. Muram describes that time as the most difficult years of her life when the traditional norms of Afghan society suffocated her, with people questioning her decision to continue her career when her fiancé had not been located.
After ten years of displacement and poverty, she got the news her fiancé had been found alive. He finally returned home. Ecstatic and relieved, Muram returned to Bakhtar News Agency—rising to senior positions and later working with many other well-known media agencies. Her stellar reputation among the media agencies led to her position as a commissioner on the Access to Information Commission where she later served as deputy commissioner.
Despite security concerns and her inability to safely travel throughout Afghanistan, in 2007 she founded her own media outlet. Muram Radio was established in Nangarhar Province near where she grew up, giving a space to woman in her community to raise their voices. About her decision to continue running the radio station despite the Taliban takeover, she says, “women need [a] voice, a source of information, and a glimmer of hope more than ever.” She believes through her radio show that women who had been suppressed by the regime have found inspiration and she remains committed to her mission despite the dangers.