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‘Female journalists can improve status of women’


ISLAMABAD: Federal Secretary for Information and Broadcasting Mansoor Sohail said that active participation of women journalists could play a pivotal role in improving the status of women by highlighting their issues in a befitting manner.

He said this while addressing a one-day training workshop on market and media titled, ‘Growth of Electronic Media and its Impact on Women Journalists’ organised by the Gender Development Section (GDS), Ministry of Information and Broadcasting here on Tuesday. Dr Shireen Mazari and Matiullah Jan were the guest speakers on the occasion. Large number of journalists from electronic and print media attended the moot.

Mansoor Sohail said that women participation in electronic media would promote the process that leads to equal participation of women at all levels of governance and lays foundation for long-term permanent gender equality in the society.

He further said that due to media boom as many as 62 channels have been launched in the country. “We need to remove gender disparity which is only possible through increased gender sensitisation,” Sohail said. Pointing out certain gaps in this rapid expansion, he said that the media is focusing too much on politics and news. “Even entertainment programmes revolve around news,” he regretted.

He said that women could change media trends by bringing social issues in the limelight through professional reporting. Speaking on the occasion Matiullah Jan said that it is the foremost duty of the government to provide a working environment to women journalists.

He further said that women journalists should not be restricted only to the social issues and women ministry. Sometimes women journalists acquire such heights, which is difficult for men to think about, Matiullah Jan said, adding that editors should also encourage women journalists for investigative reporting.

Urging women to make their place in media through professionalism and hard work, speakers said that quota can never mainstream women in any field but it actually introduces a positive discrimination that detaches women from real competition. Female journalists shared their experiences and pointed out the issues faced by women in electronic media.

They said that women face discrimination in beat distribution as in most of the cases, hard beats and on the spot coverage is given to male colleagues. They termed harassment and lack of mobility, few of the biggest hurdles in the way of professional development for women in this field.

They said that much depend on the way women deals with all these hurdles. “If they are ready to put in their best and take initiatives, no one stops them from exploring new venues,” said one female journalist. Speakers said that demanding special gender recognition comes with positive discrimination that further segregate woman from mainstream journalism. They said good reporting demands thorough knowledge of the respective beat.

They regretted that generally physical appearance of women determines their access to visual media. “At the end, it is not the looks but the capability and credibility that help a professional to survive in this competitive field,” said Dr Shireen Mazari.She condemned the recent circulation of the pictures of a party, attended by female journalists on the internet. “Maligning women professionals on personal level is simply not acceptable and also raises questions about the attitude of male journalists towards their female colleagues,” she added.

Despite certain improvements, she said that by and large, media is still a male domain and there is no comparison of few female faces on screen with the thousands of men behind the camera controlling policies, production and hiring in media organisations. Executive Director Gender Reform Action Plan (GRAP) Rehana Hashmi stressed the need to work on women issues that have so far remained invisible in the media. She said that majority of women are unaware of the women specific laws. “Only media can create awareness among women about their rights and the legal protection provided to them in the constitution,” she pointed out.

Rehana said that every story has a gender angle that is usually ignored by media persons. She said that female journalists could bring real change in the social mindset of the society. Speaking on the occasion Rehana Hashmi Project Director of Gender Reform Action Plan (GRAP) said that GRAP is working to create an environment where women could enjoy equal rights and respect, the same level of decision-making authority and equal mobility and protection under law. Certificates were awarded at the finale to the participants by the Secretary information.

Source: Business Recorder