KARACHI: Sharing their experiences and concerns, women journalists at a gathering stressed that media houses needed to adopt flexible working hours for women, a concept being promoted across the world, so that they could better perform their professional and domestic obligations.
The media houses, they said, also needed to facilitate young mothers by providing facilities like day-care centres in order to encourage more and more women not to sacrifice their professional careers when they have to bear with additional responsibilities at home.
The programme, ‘Empowering women thorugh awareness’, was held at the Karachi Press Club on Friday.
Though the attendance was thin, the programme provided the much-needed platform to women journalists, some of whom are running magazines and newspapers while others are holding senior positions at their workplace, to interact, share thoughts and build linkages that could help raise issues directly affecting women in the media.
There was consensus among most speakers that journalism had proven to be one of the most rewarding professions for women who faced no glass ceiling effects as such and could rise to higher positions with hard work and dedication.
Male colleagues, they said, were generally cooperative and understanding and it was up to the woman alone how she developed a rapport with her colleagues.
“Work hard, be professional and be the best in whatever you choose to do. Forget your gender when you decide to be a reporter, which is one of the most enjoyable jobs in the media,” said Prof Shahida Qazi, a former chairperson of mass communication department of Karachi University and Jinnah University, currently teaching at the Institute of Business Administration. Prof Qazi said she was the first female reporter in Dawn and later worked for the PTV for 18 years. She urged young journalists not to get discouraged by criticism or impolite remarks and always uphold professionalism.
She expressed concern that only few of the girls passing out every year from various universities after getting education in journalism in print or electronic media, joined the profession.
“Where are those girls? It is also unfortunate that girls avoid doing hard beats like crime reporting. Women have greater potential to become better crime reporters as they look into the human interest aspect of the story, too,” she remarked.
Referring to the outstanding services of women, senior journalist Abida Farheen said women could make a difference even in extraordinarily difficult circumstances.
“One can take the example of Dr Sakena Yacoobi, the head of Afghan Institute of Learning, working for 17 years in war-hit Afghanistan who has so far helped 300,000 girls read and write. Or Tawakkul Karman of Yemen, the Nobel Peace Prize winner fighting for a change in a tribal society, who has been campaigning for human rights since 2006 and also went to jail.”
The speakers also highlighted the need for establishing strong links between the media houses and institutions offering education and training in print and electronic journalism so that students were better equipped to face professional challenges.
The online editions of newspapers and magazines and even internet blogs had provided women with a lot of opportunities to use their talents, they said.
Prof Dr Rafia Taj, chairperson of KU’s mass communication department, provincial minister Shazia Marri and others also spoke.