By: Kiyya Qadir Baloch
ISLAMABAD: At an event, organised by UKs research centre and the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) on Wednesday, a report was launched addressing the imperative need for greater women participation in media.
The speakers at the launching ceremony stressed the need for raising awareness among people about gender-based violence. They also called for curbing discrimination against and stereotyping of women in national media.
The report, titled ‘Who’s Telling Our Story: A Situation Analysis of Women in Media in Pakistan’, was launched at a local hotel under the presence of prominent media persons, scholars, lawyers and civil society representatives. The event started with the screening of a documentary, which gave a detailed description of the report and its various stages.
The report revealed that stereotyping of women in the media had been hindering the development and empowerment of women in the Pakistani media.
Prominent writer and poet Kishwar Naheed participated as chief guest in the ceremony. Eminent lawyer Asma Jahangir, UN Pakistan-based gender adviser Salman Asif, Fozia Shahid, representative of journalist union, Farzana Ali, Peshawar-based Bureau Chief of a private TV channel Tasneem Ahmar and other speakers also spoke at the occasion.
Prominent Advocate Asima Jahangir said she seeks to facilitate behavioural change in the media houses by enabling more women participation in media and urged improved societal attitudes towards women.
She said that violence against women is a persistent problem occurring in every media organization, including electronic, print and advertising agencies. She further said that violence against women has been called “the most pervasive yet least recognised human rights abuse in our institutions.” “Gender violence occurs in both the public and private spheres,” she added.
She also expressed annoyance against glass ceiling, sexual harassment and stereotyping of women in the media.
She said that the media should not glorify the negative elements but should focus on positive segments of society.
“Parents of young women in media studies fear for their daughters’ reputation and honour if they work in any form of media because of the attitude adopted by men towards women in the media houses,” she said.
Asma said due to sexual harassment at workplaces many parents hesitate to send their daughters to media organisations in search of jobs.
“We live in a male dominant society, where women have been portrayed negatively,” she said. She also demanded maximum participation of women in political talk shows.
Fozia Shahid said the performance of women in media had improved as compared to their male counterparts. She added, “We need to change our behaviour towards women journalists.”
“Women have made enormous contribution to national politics and they should be given full credit for it,” she added.
Danish ambassador Ole E Moesby said that Pakistan has some extremely talented and inspiring female journalists who have made their mark and advocated gender-based issues throughout their journalistic services.
The report was a detailed assessment of women’s portrayal and representation in the media delineating the causes and potential solutions for the problems. The report was also launched simultaneously in Islamabad, Karachi and Peshawar..