Book Review: Dr. Bakhita Amin’s Women Journalism in the Sudan Publisher: Al Hayah Aljadeeda, Khartoum, Pages: 150 – medium size Language: Arabic/ English, Lodging No.: 232-2010

Book Review of Dr Amin, by Aisha sulieman
Cover page of Women Press in the Sudan by Dr Bakhita Al Amin

Khartoum, (sudanow.info.sd)- As a professor of journalism and a leading figure in the Sudanese feminist movement, Dr. Bakhita Amin provides in this book for the first time, as Prof. Ali Shommo, rightly puts it in the preface of the book, “an overview of the history and development of women journalism in the Sudan.”

The author dedicates a chapter for providing the reader with general information about the Sudan since its independence from Britain in 1956 including its area, population, types of governments, economy, girls education, press history and women struggle to achieve their rights.

The second chapter is devoted to valuable linguistic and professional explanations for the term “journalism” and the concept of female journalism. She concluded that researchers differ widely on how to define female journalism. Some of them define it as women and family pages appearing in newspapers and magazines, others say it is the publications that are basically intended for female audience while a third group says it means those publications owned and edited by women.

 

The author disagrees with those definitions because they restricted the broad meaning of journalism to pro-women publications only. She says what matters is not the sex but the content of the written material. A review of the history of female journalism in the Arab world was also included in the book as well as a history of newspapers in Sudan.

 

The author gives detailed account of female publications in the Sudan citing the names of pioneering women who occupied leading editorial posts at different publications and others whose writings continued to enrich the sociocultural and political life in the country. The list of pioneering female journalists includes 19 names.

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For the purpose of this article only some of them will be cited: Fatima Ahmed Ibrahim, born in Omdurman, attended High Secondary School, a writer and women rights activist, elected president of Union of Sudanese Women 1956-1957, established Sought Almara’a “Woman Voice” and became its editor.

 

The first woman elected to the parliament in 1965, Ms Ibrahim dedicated her time and effort working in public and underground fighting for the women rights, she wrote extensively on women affairs.

 

Nafeesa Ahmed Alamin, born in Omdurman and graduated from the Teachers Training College, participated in regional and international conferences and wrote extensively on women affairs and on general political and social issues. Ms Alamin participated extensively in radio and television programmes. In 1972 she published a book on the struggle of Sudanese women. She served as Deputy Prime Minister.

 

Nafeesa Mohamed Kamel, born in Sinnar, central Sudan, received intermediate education at the American Angelical Missionary School. Ms Kamal, with the help of her husband, managed to educate herself reading books on literature, history and arts, she edited the women page in Kordufan magazine, wrote in a number of daily newspapers.

Takwi Sarkisyan, she is considered the first Sudanese female journalist to take writing as profession. Ms Sarkisyan was born and educated in Khartoum attending Unity High School. She published a monthly female magazine called “Bint Alwadi” ( the Vally Daughter) at her own expense.

 

Hajja Kashif, was the first to allocate special section for women in Al Saraha newspaper (Frankness) under the name Women and Work. Amal Siraj, one of the most prominent journalists, a college graduate, she worked as family program presenter traveling extensively across the country especially to remote rural areas gathering information and interviewing people.

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Dr Bakhita Amin, born in Omdurman, is leading figure in the Sudanese intellectual society, she earned a BA degree from Cairo university in Khartoum, diploma in journalism from Thompson Foundation, diploma in environmental studies, a master degree in media and development from Redding University and a PhD in journalism from the University of Khartoum (1988). Dr Amin supervised women pages in numerous Sudanese newspapers. She was the first Sudanese correspondent in Khartoum for the Voice of America. She is currently the regional editor of Sayedati magazine, a london based magazine, published by a Saudi Publishing Company.

 

She served as the Editor in Chief of Maryoud children magazine for five years. She is a columnist, Deputy head of the World Association for Women Journalists and Writers (WWJW), she wrote over 30 papers on journalism and women, established Omdurman College for Press and Printing Techniques, honored by WWJW and by Sudanese Women Journalists Society, and granted the State Achievement Award in 1989.

 

Amal Abbas: She worked at several papers, a daily columnist, editor, publisher, her vast experience earned her membership of numerous boards, prizes and awards including “Courage in Journalism Award Prize” of the International Women’s Media Foundation in Washington.

Chapter Five gives historical review of women publications in Sudan (1956-2006) concluding that female publications since the 1950s and until today have been of great benefit; advocating women causes as well as addressing the country’s pressing problems.

They opened the way for women to build their capacities and enabled hundreds to enter the field of journalism and writing. It is quite clear that Dr Amin has exerted tremendous efforts to bring to the limelight the great role played by those pioneering women. She tackled not only the history, but traced the suffering and sacrifices made by those pioneers who stood in face of all odds to pave the way for the coming generations.

Those women, the author showed, took journalism as a tool to gain rights for women. Therefore, all the names the author cited are initiators or members of first women associations and many of them are still playing similar roles.

We would take the audacity, however, to disagree with the author, Dr. Bakhita, who cited some names of today’s women journalists whose contributions could not be described as pioneering. Time has to pass before we could judge whether we could list them along with the vanguard of pioneers.

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Books by the same author: –

– Sisters Under the Sun (in English)

– Huroof min Gurs al Shamus (Writings from the Sun Disk)

– Shaheerat Al Nisaa Fil-soudan (Famous Women in Sudan), co-author: Dr. Al-Radhia Adam

– Altayeb Salih: Nakhla ala Jadwal Alibdie (The Creative Palm-tree stream)

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