Unions are recognised by Afghan laws. The mass media law paves the ground for the media sector to have its unions. Journalists and media have their unions based on the law. The Federation of Afghanistan’s Media Organisations and Journalists (FAMOJ) is a network of 16 entities including unions.
The Afghanistan National Journalists Union (ANJU) is the first ever union with almost 4 decades of activities. The Afghanistan National Journalists and Writers Union is an affiliate to the first one. Women have their own unions too. The Afghanistan Women Journalist Union (AWJU) is the most famous one.
But the problem is that unions are not powerful enough to perform in the way unions should by definition. Unions are either busy with their internal issues including financial challenges or have become an organisation to implement projects and consequently act as project-driven entities. There is no system of fees or intersectorial contributions, thus, unions are facing financial problems for their sustainability. This forces them to apply for projects, with the consequence that at the end of the day unions are becoming project-driven entities. A membership fee system is rarely applied into the unions.
Trust in the unions is weak in the media sector. Large percentages of journalists are not members of a union. In some instances also the government interferes with the unions’ performances.