Somalia's only all-women media team wins global freedom of expression award

June 19, 2024
Photo: UNDP Somalia

Mogadishu - Somalia’s only all-women news team, Bilan, has won the 2024 One World Media Press Freedom Award today, becoming the first Somali media team to receive this honour.

The award honours their courageous reporting over the past two years, which has smashed taboos and blazed a trail for women journalists in one of the most dangerous countries to report the news.

“We are delighted to have our work recognized in this way,” said Bilan’s Chief Editor, Hinda Abdi Mohamud. “We hope that having an all-women news team winning an award like this will change attitudes in Somalia and open up more opportunities for women in the media and professional jobs.”

Established by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2021 and funded by the European Union since 2024 through UNDP, Bilan has provided opportunity for Somali women journalists to exercise editorial independence, deciding what they want to report and how. They have used this freedom to break some of Somalia’s major stories on a range of issues, including the discrimination and violence against albino communities, the life of HIV-positive Somalis living on the streets, the abuse of female orphansschools for autistic children and teachers and the rising opiate use among women in Mogadishu. They have also championed women in politics, business and other male-dominated roles.

"The Bilan team is forging new connections with local communities, shedding new light on neglected issues, and courageously reporting to inform, educate, and engage the public, said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner. “By telling these essential stories of Somalia and upholding a commitment to the truth, they are demonstrating how women must be able to play their part in writing a new narrative for the country.”

“This award is a powerful recognition of the Bilan team’s impressive work,” said Karin Johannson, Ambassador of the European Union to Somalia. “Their inspiring stories show the world how Somalia is emerging from a troubled past and moving towards a bright future.”

Inside Somalia, Bilan’s reports reach millions via the radio, TV and social media channels of Dalsan Media Group, which hosts Bilan at offices in Mogadishu. Bilan’s reports also appear regularly in international media, including the Guardian, BBC and El País, raising the profile of Somali women journalists and proving they can compete at the highest levels, even while dealing with discrimination and threats of violence. 

Despite Bilan’s global recognition, the stories of its individual reporters show how tough it can be for Somali women to make it in journalism. All the team have had to overcome intense social pressure to become reporters, sometimes studying in secret or working anonymously. 

The One World Media Awards recognise the best media coverage of the global south. Stories that break through stereotypes, change the narrative and connect people across cultures. 

Each year, hundreds of entries from all over the world are judged by panels of distinguished professionals, carefully selected from the media and non-profit sectors for their wide-ranging experience and expertise.

For more information and to arrange interviews, contact:

Ilyas Abukar, UNDP Somalia, Communication Analyst, (mobile/Whatsapp + 252 619 2888 67)


Photo and video assets

Professional photos and b-roll of Bilan at work are available here. UNDP can also facilitate media visits to the Bilan offices in Mogadishu or to capture the team reporting in the field. 

About Bilan

Bilan is a pioneering all-women media team in Somalia, staffed and run entirely by women with full editorial independence. The team covers hard news and in-depth features, holding leaders to account and making sure women’s stories and voices are heard. Established by UNDP in 2021 and funded by the European Union since 2024, Bilan is hosted by Dalsan Media Group at offices in Mogadishu, Somalia.

About UNDP Somalia 

UNDP is the leading United Nations organization fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and planet. Learn more at or follow us at @UNDPSomalia (X), @undpsom (Facebook) and @undpsomalia (LinkedIn).