Zan and the art of breaking barriers


Afghanistan’s first by-women-for-women TV channel is making waves with its cutting-edge shows on activism, politics and finance

Hamid Samar

Investment in women’s economic empowerment in Afghanistan is a great initiative to set a direct path to gender equality, and this is what Hamid Samar, founder of Zan TV—the first women’s TV channel in Afghanistan to break social norms—has done.

Zan, which means ‘women’ in the Dari language, is the first TV station in Afghanistan run entirely by women. In a country where men dominated the television industry, and where women were banned from education over a decade ago, this is indeed an impressive achievement to say the least. The country has been rebuilding from the war and this station is a great hope to build resilience among women.

The launch of Zan TV was a defining moment for the people of Afghanistan to witness the first step to ending the inequity towards women within the country. In fact, the channel has already begun making a difference on a global scale. The station has had coverage from more than 85 international media houses. It’s being seen as a groundbreaking move for women’s rights, in a country still dominated by men. Women in Afghanistan now have got their own TV channel and more opportunities to have a voice in the television industry and in society. It will pave the way for greater empowerment for future generations.

Zan TV founder Hamid Samar says she saw a gap in the market when going through dozens of job applications from women at another TV station. “Zan’s task is to build an audience by developing cutting-edge shows on the issues affecting millennial Afghan women, such as negotiating Islam as a feminist, reproductive rights, managing finances and careers,” she says. Zan has employed 10 men to train women in operating cameras and editing film, adds Hamid.

The most popular shows are the Daily News show hosted by Yasamin Yarmal and a weekly evening show that features conversations with radical Afghan women such as the politician and activist Fareeda Kuchi Balkhi, from Afghanistan’s nomadic Kuchi tribe.

Zan also runs a daytime cookery programme on how to make speedy healthy meals. In the evening, hour-long entertainment show In Focus recently showcased an all-female orchestra.

The channel can be viewed on


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