KARACHI: Participants at a roundtable conference on Wednesday urged better representation of women in Pakistani media, especially in the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhua (KP) and Balochistan.
The conference, organised by Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) at a local hotel to issue ‘women voices in media’, a report about the quantitative analysis of three KP-based newspapers, three Balochistan newspapers and two regional TV stations in both provinces. The report was focused on the content regarding presence of female voices in the news published and broadcast from May 1, 2013 to July 30, 2013.
Sadaf Baig of Centre for International Media Ethics (CIME) told the moot that women constitute almost 50 percent of the Pakistani population but their representation in KP and Balochistan media was alarmingly low.
She said that there was less than one percent representation of women in the stories published in KP-based newspaper while it was one percent in Balochistan-based newspapers. According to the data for primary source of information, out of 14,761 news items, 3,014 were identified as men being the source, with women far behind at only 24 news item regarding them were in KP papers.
In the newspapers of Balochistan, 285 news items were identified as men-sourced and 50 as women-sourced. The media stories with women as sources were unlikely to appear on the front or back pages of the newspapers in both the provinces. Mostly the stories with women as sources published in the middle pages of newspapers papers and generally they were reports about Bollywood female stars.
Coordinator to Chief Minister Sindh on Culture Sharmila Farooqui said that these figures represent a mindset which believed that whenever a woman spoke it was no worth but the same words coming from a man’s mouth increase their credibility. She said that the issue of ratings matters for TV channels, adding showing women as victims increases their ratings. This is why crime shows aired by news channels are a source to increase their rating. She said that women were also responsible for this as they are generally not ready to assert them in social and professional life.
PPF Secretary General Owais Aslam Ali said that women had less representation in media also due to hesitation of female reporters to go outside and cover a story. Generally, the female reporters are assigned only to cover stories related to women issues.
The speakers said with proper education the prevailing trends in Pakistani society could be changed. Pakistani women working in media also have to work hard to attain their due status and the educational institutions should play their role in promoting female literacy in the country, they added.