JINHA: A News agency of, by and for women
JINHA or Jin Haber Ajansi means Woman News Agency in Turkish/Kurdish. It is a news agency with only women employees.
From the correspondent to the editor, from accountants to technicians, from students to university graduates, from mothers to primary school graduates, from Turks to Alevis, from Kurds to Armenians all are women. JINHA is an agency that consists of a team where women from each section of the society can work comfortably without any differentiation of their race, ethnicity, language and religion.
JINHA is currently available in Kurdish, Turkish, English and Sorani. To know more about this unique news agency, we spoke to team JINHA
continnect: How did the idea of an all women JINHA news agency evolve?
Ayfer Serçe was the main inspiration behind the creation of this agency. Ayfer, a Kurdish journalist with Turkish citizenship was in Iran to research on women suicides in Iran. She was killed just near the Iranian border and the government has been held responsible for it. Ayfer wanted to establish a women news agency against the male dominated society. Virginia Woolf wrote in her book A Room “And write, write without thinking of what men would say about it”. So on International Women’s Day in 2012, a group of women came together and formed JINHA, where “we write without thinking of what men could think about it”.
continnect: Can you tell us about the status of women in Turkey and share some of your research on the statistics of women from your country that helped you come up with the idea of news agency?
The reason behind creating this news agency was the need to be part of existing women’s struggle and at the same time take that struggle out the masculine domain. The language used by mainstream media is masculine. We wanted to create news in women’s voice and setting up a ‘women’s only’ news agency can be seen as “a new language” on its own, a new notion. You are building something that doesn’t exist and this is seen as the first example in the world. We create news reflections from women’s perspective which are women focused, against a sex-oriented language and in a women-centric language, no matter what the topic is, with women on the other side of the microphone.
continnect: Can you talk about the coverage of women centric stories in Turkish media?
You will find very few women-centric stories in Turkish media. Only a few places are doing/ can do women centric stories and these are anyway known as alternative media/free press agencies.
continnect: Tell us about the presence of JINHA news agency in Turkey? Also share with the experience of the day you launched JINHA?
When we launched in 2012, we started with 7 employees. It was an exciting start, both for women within the agency and also outside. We were also open to scrutiny by the mainstream media. Even the rest of the world had it’s eyes on us. European delegations didn’t leave without visiting the agency. We have received much congratulations for what they see as one of the most successful projects.
continnect: what are the issues/ topics that you cover?
At JINHA we cover all the topics that are part of our life from ecology, legal/law, politics, life, culture-art, economy, labour, world, health and sports. The only difference is that we do it with women’s touch and in women’s voice.
continnect: What are your future plans?
Our main goal is for the agency to become the voice of all women. To achieve that we are planning to expand the network of our correspondents. At present we have around 60-70 reporters in Turkey and Kurdistan. We hope to raise that number to 100. We also want to establish bureaus where we don’t have offices yet, we want to be more institutionalised. As said earlier, our most important target is to reach women across the globe and to connect to every women. In short we want to connect with every women in the world and we want all the women to connect with each other. We know that we need to be more recognized and promoted. Our target is to become pioneers at this point in women news agency arena.
continnect: Tell us about difficult situation your reporters/or your team has faced while covering a story as a woman?
Being a women correspondent is difficult in itself. We had difficulties during the field studies. Initially we faced some difficulties with male reporter and cameramen. During news follow-ups they tried to take our space, tried to make us invisible by putting their microphones above ours. During press releases they tried to shove us behind them. But we respond to these pushes with our self-confidence and by being at the center of news reporting. Things have changed a bit, now men are making way for us to report. This is our achievement, of every women, which she has earned.
One is, our motto is to “write without thinking what men would think about us”. We are committed to that promise. We are reporting about the massacres in our home country, without any discrimination on basis of women, men, children or elderly. In Kurdish provinces, under self-government areas we are trying to report the massacres and attacks on people are being carried out by government forces. We call them massacres cause that is what we at JINHA see.
The world needs to know what women and children experience at such times. We reported many children were killed during this period from baby in a mother’s womb to a 3-month old baby Miray. Then there is Cemile who kept her mother’s body in cold storage to avoid the smell and Nihat Kazanhan who was killed by the Cizre police on 14th January last year. What we want to highlight again and again how women and children are the most vulnerable victims of these wars. International agencies need to react and respond immediately.