Yemen's youths find their outlet on the airwaves

Two of Yemen's 20-somethings are serving as a channel between youths and the government through their issues-based radio show.

• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

In a country where giving young people a voice is rare, a new radio program produced by 20-somethings is an opportunity for Yemen’s younger population to express its opinions.

In a chatty atmosphere, two hosts, a guy and a girl – which pushes the envelope on what is socially acceptable in conservative Yemen – discuss such topics as child marriage and political corruption for a half-hour each week.

Before the first show of “Maan Leenkon Alafdal,” or “Let’s Be the Best Together” was aired in September 2010, a poll asked youths which issues they wished the program would cover. The standout issue on young people’s minds? Unemployment.

“I think our program is making a channel between youth and official sides in the government,” said producer Ali al-Ashwar. An initiative of the San Francisco-based nongovernmental organization Equal Access, “Let’s Be the Best Together” is the first youth-led radio program in Yemen, where 75 percent of the population is below age 25. The show airs on seven radio stations across Yemen, including in provinces known for being stalwarts of dissent.

“Before, young people ... thought of [radio] as something for old people,” said producer Abdullah al-Amin. Fellow producer Boshra Nasher, added: “Our episodes send messages to the youth [on] how to solve their problems.”

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