By Ishrat Hyatt
Islamabad: ‘Uks’ – a research, resource and publication centre on women and media – has published a instructive media manual for gender sensitive reporting on women and political participation in Pakistan titled, ‘Engendering Politics through Media.’
The objective of the manual is to explore radio for advocacy; to understand the role of radio for the progress of women in Pakistan; to explore the relationship between community radio, women and politics; to explain through case study how community radio empowers and gives voice to the voiceless; to explore what has been done already – ‘Aurat ki tarraqui, hamari tarraqui,’ (development for women, development for all) a case study, explores the role of women in governance, decision making and the importance of having gender equity for democracy.
On the first page after the title pages of the manual, there is a quote by Benjamin Mkapa, president of the United Republic of Tanzania, which reflects the thinking behind this publication. “The civil society and the mass media have an important role in deepening democratic governance in any country. We have seen at the international level the effect that the international civil society is beginning to have on policies of government and international organizations, especially in relation to the need to improve transparency and democratic governance of international institutions.”
Director Uks, Tasneem Ahmar feels that the issue is of immense importance for Pakistan and her observation that ‘a flourishing body of work has been in the area of how women lack political representation and the issues that restrict women from reaching decision making positions; the relationship between media and gender on various levels and how gender and media intersect and what are the opportunities and repercussions that appear as a consequence’ is part of the foreword. It explains, in part, why Uks came up with this manual – ‘to increase awareness about the need for female political participation and empowerment; to inform journalists on how gender insensitive political reporting affects the cause of female political participation and how they can be partners in advocating for the cause.
The manual begins with section one – Engendering Politics: Issues and Possibilities – giving an overall introduction and links to women, radio, development and politics for a better understanding of their relationship, while the second section – Working with the Media – contains practical guidelines for advocating and planning gender sensitive radio productions based on political developments, focusing on the recent political changes and developments in Pakistan.
Credit for this publication goes to the editorial team; National Endowment for Democracy (NED) project trainers and trainees and Shamoon Hashmi, Deputy Secretary/Coordinator to Speaker NA who helped the team to understand the aims, objectives and work of Women’s Parliamentary Caucus.
Source: The News