The first women’s radio station in the Middle East, NISAA is a mix of interactive talk shows produced by women featuring women, social awareness campaigns on important issues such as domestic violence, and music and entertainment.
Geographic Area of Impact: Palestine
Model: Hybrid Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 126,800 listenership
Annual Budget: USD 113,798 (2013)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 55% (2013)
The Social Problem
Mainstream media in Palestine and across the Middle East are dominated by male perspectives and tend to portray women as victims or passive actors of current events, reinforcing negative stereotypes. Only 10% of news stories in the Middle East express women’s views, according to the Global Monitoring Project, and typically when they are interviewed, they are presented as passers-by, students, and housewives rather than opinion shapers or experts.
Innovation and Activities
Just as media can reinforce gender stereotypes, NISAA is using media as a tool to debate taboos, challenge traditional roles assigned to women, and present women as capable and assertive actors in society, thereby reshaping power relations. NISAA, which means “her” in Arabic, has three radio frequencies across the Palestinian territories and a listenership of 126,000, or 10% of the total population. NISAA’s unique mix of Western and Arabic music, interspersed with morning, noon, evening, and weekend talk shows, is intentionally designed to be attractive to both male and female listeners, since actively engaging men in the conversation about gender is central to NISAA’s philosophy (men represent 57% of total listeners).
All of NISAA’s presenters and most of their guests and expert contributors are women. The morning show focuses on top economic and political stories, including pieces from female reporters in the field, and features a special segment depending on the day of the week (e.g. interviews with women making a difference in their community on Mondays; discussions on workplace issues on Wednesdays; mental health segments on Sundays). The midday show focuses on critical women’s issues, such as domestic violence and honor killings, with segments developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, USAID, and other institutions. The afternoon show targets adolescents and teen girls with stories that convey the importance of education and self-respect.
Commercial sponsors of the station include the Palestinian National Bank, Coca Cola, Paltel, and Deutche Welle, while philanthropic donors include the Womanity Foundation, USAID, and DFID, which provided a grant to help NISAA develop an android application so listeners can tune in from their phones. NISAA has active plans to expand FM programming into Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia and are identifying potential affiliate stations in Syria and Yemen.
Maysoun is of Palestinian origin and grew up in Palestine. She pursued her studies in both France and America and has decades of experience in the media sector, particularly in Palestine. In 2009, with strong support and seed capital from The Womanity Foundation, Maysoun launched NISAA Broadcasting Company in Ramallah. She has subsequently received multiple recognitions for her work, including a Synergos Fellowship, Ashoka Fellow, member of the Clinton Global Initiative, and awards from both the Palestinian Ministry of Local Government and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.
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