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Banat wa Bass or Girls Only became the region’s first online radio station catering to the issues of Arab women when it was established in April 2008. Now it has a fan base of nearly five million listeners throughout the Arab world.
I had the opportunity to speak with founder and editor in chief of Banat wa Bass, Amani Eltunsi. Here's an excerpt of our discussion.
Egyptian women, on a daily basis, deal with a lot of issues from harassment to violence to gender inequality. When I started this radio station in 2008, there were no media outlets giving voice to Arab women.
In the region, movies always portrays women as being weak. I wanted to counter this by showing women who are empowered.
At Banat wa Bass we try and concentrate on educated women simply because our educated people are non-educated due to the poor quality of Egypt's educational system.
In Egypt, there are millions of working and college girls that deal with harassment and violence either in the streets or from her family. These women need some place to express themselves. That's why I created Banat wa Bass. By conducting workshops in the universities and holding public discussions on the radio show, I'm not only informing these women on their rights but i'm also empowering them on how to use their rights.
During the revolution, I was always in Tahrir Square. Because the internet was shut off I decided to keep a diary of my thoughts and interviews with women. The end result was a book called A Girl's Wish from Tahrir Square.
The Power of the Internet
It's very expensive to create an FM radio station in Egypt. With traditional radio, there's also a lot of control where as online I can be free. In addition, government officials can't access Internet radio as easily and it also protects the listeners because they can't monitor everyone listening to the broadcast.
The beauty of the Internet is that it doesn't just limit my audience to Egypt. It gives me the opportunity to speak to the world.
However, on one occasion the national security ordered me to their office. They noticed a lot of women coming to the office and wanted to know what we're doing. I told them that I was running an Internet radio station. They didn't understand so I showed them the website. He told that if I wanted to continue my work that I can't talk about politics, sex or religion.
Time to Lend Your Voice
During my interview with Amani she expressed a desire to take Banat wa Bass to the next level. As a one woman show, Amani has had to fund this project via personal loans. If you work for an NGO or are looking to sponsor kick-ass ideas and projects then I encourage you to visit Banat wa Bass' website and contact Amani.
Check out their website! Banat wa Bass