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Evolution of the female journalist

Karachi: The number of females working in the Pakistani media is fairly large now as compared to the past. But even then it seems that a female-oriented story is still not given priority in the news/media, unless it is glamorous or related to crime/abuse. Is this the editors’ fault or the fault of the female journalists’ inability to grasp the attention of her bosses and interest of her audience?

These were some of the points that were raised and discussed on the first day of the two-day training workshop for women journalists held by Uks – a research, resource and publication centre dedicated to the cause of gender equality and women’s development in association with the CIPE (Centre for International Private Enterprise) – titled ‘Powerful Women, Powerful Nation’ held on Friday (Sept 14) in Karachi. The participants included journalists from across the media – print, electronic and social media. This event was moderated by Director Uks Tasneem Ahmar.

The agenda of the first day was divided into two parts. The first part of the session explored ‘Understanding female portrayal of women in Pakistani media’. Tasneem Ahmar gave an introduction to the work that Uks has done over the years and the milestones achieved since its inception in 1997 – like changing or moulding the way a story was treated in the media, the frequency of these stories, the type of language used, how women are stereotyped etc.

This was a lively, interactive session, in which the participants spoke on a vast variety of topics related to the state of women in general, of female journalists and the problems they face professionally.

The issue of women being projected in news as well as entertainment in set way also came under discussion and the participants shared the problems they encountered while trying to push certain stories.

They also revealed the problems they themselves faced at the work place, not only at the hands of their males colleagues, but at the hands of their female colleagues more so. There was consensus that there’s a need to do a little more to highlight female related stories.

The second session – Social media, advocacy and activism’ – was conducted by CIPE’s Deputy Country Director Mr Hammad Siddiqui in which the participants learned how to use the social media to enhance their roles as journalists and how to increase their visibility as journalists by utilising various tools of the social media. The participants volleyed several interesting questions during this session about the social media and how it could help the professionally and personally.

Mr Siddiqui tackled these questions and helped illuminate many grey areas regarding the social media, clearing many misconceptions during this session. Mr Siddiqui was confident that he had ‘converted’ many to the advantages of the use of social media. And the reaction of the journalists revealed that their interest had not only been piqued and that they would employ the social media to help them grow in the new dimensions of the evolving media.

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