Sep 30 2014
By Daoud Kuttab
When I met Islam Barbar in a Gaza restaurant in 2012 while on a human rights mission, I was impressed with her cheerful demeanor but taken aback by the hopelessness that she felt. Although Barbar was publishing media reports, running her own media training center and active in women’s rights issues, the one place that she was dreaming to go to was the occupied West Bank. Not only had she not visited other parts of Palestine, but at 26 years old she had never left the besieged Gaza strip. The report that the International Press Institute issued after our visit stressed the need for freedom of movement between Gaza and both the West Bank and Israel.
For my part, I succeeded in getting Islam to Cairo in 2013 to attend the Aswatona community radio conference that I was involved in. The attending radio practitioners exchanged ideas of how to set up, manage, and fund a community-based station. A popular idea discussed was to start with an online station and then to move into the FM sphere. Energized by the potential of being involved in broadcasting, Islam returned to Gaza, and set her sight on creating a radio station that can focus on women’s issues.
Within a year she was able to secure a small grant from the UK-based Community Media Solutions, through Qarya Media Institute, a Palestinian NGO which also gave her technical support. Nissagaza.com was launched on April 30, 2014 out of her Gaza city media center with local women’s organizations and women activists and local leaders from all walks attending. Islam was most excited on launch day with a musical jingle that was created for the new women’s station by a male supporter. She uses this story and the presence of men and women at her station to drive home the idea that gender issues are not the exclusivity of women. Continue Reading »