Throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), gender discrimination is rife. Women are considered to have lower status and value than men; there are limited education and employment opportunities for girls and women, and they are often subject to injustice and abuse.
This starts from a young age. In Iran, girls from poor families are at risk of being forced into child labour and can be married as young as nine. Even families in better situations often cannot afford to send their daughters to school. In Afghanistan, only 18% of women can read and write (UNESCO). Sexual abuse and domestic violence are commonplace.
SAT-7 supporting women
SAT-7 is supporting girls and young women in Iran and Afghanistan through new programmes on its Farsi language channel, SAT-7 PARS. Insiders is a live weekly chat show for women with four presenters that discusses topics from a Christian perspective to help women work through problems together.
Meanwhile, A Girl’s World, a live interactive programme due to go on air in December, will give girls aged between 8 and 15 a chance to learn and talk about issues that are not otherwise discussed in their culture.
The programme will cover challenging subjects, such as loneliness, rejection, protection from sexual abuse, and insecurities about physical appearance and body image, from a Christian perspective. Viewers will be able to call in anonymously to ask for advice.
“Break down the culture of shame”
Presenter Parastoo Poortaheri said she wants A Girl’s World to “break down the culture of shame” and “present a balanced, well-rounded view to give our audience something to think about”, adding, “Ultimately, we want these girls to know how valued they are in God’s eyes.”
SAT-7’s viewer support team is always on hand to help those who get in touch in response to programmes. A viewer from Iran said:
I have never received the amount of care from my own family that I have been receiving from you guys! Truly it is not the biological family relationship that makes you love someone, but indeed it’s the spirit of God who connects the hearts. Thank you God that if I don’t have any earthly family, I have God’s family.”