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Women fighting gender bias in media

By Khawar Ghumman

ISLAMABAD: Stereotype portrayal of women in media has long been a subject under discussion at various fora, but no serious attempt is made to carefully explore this theme followed by some actionable recommendations.

Uks, a research, resource and publication centre focusing on gender equality and media, on Wednesday came up with a report that presented in-depth content analysis of challenges faced by women in mainstream national media.

The report also carried a set of recommendations, put together following extensive consultations with some leading journalists from both electronic and print media.

The report, entitled More Women in Media: The Way Forward, has addressed a number of issues ranging from negative portrayal of women in media to insignificant number of female journalists at top positions, and from sexual harassment at workplace to gender biased news coverage that favours men. The report has been launched on the eve of World Human Rights Day.

Speaking at the launching ceremony, Uks director briefly talked about efforts she and her team had put in to produce this 10-chapter report. She said to get authentic data and genuine feel of media managers and editors on the problem, she traveled throughout the country and had quite insightful deliberations on the subject.

Over the last few years, a number of universities in the country have launched mass communication departments, where a significant number of female students are receiving education, she said. However, when it comes to number of female working as active journalists their presence is very discouraging and very few make it to the top, which is a serious concern the report had attempted to address, she added.

Through this report, she said Uks had also tried to unearth taboos and societal pressures, which over the years contributed to women’s dismal performance in the burgeoning media industry.

Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) Director-General Murtaza Solangi openly accepted the fact that the role of women was continuously being stigmatised by the local and national media outlets.

Being appreciative of Uks, Mr Solangi said it was a brave effort on the part of the research organisation to highlight ground realities regarding women journalists in the country.

“Now it is up to us, people sitting at top positions, to benefit from the report and implement on its recommendations,” Mr Solangi said.

Faryal Gohar, a known television personality who was chief guest on the occasion, shared her disturbed married life besides media bashing which she received being as an actress.

“Throughout my professional life of both as a TV actress and a director, media had never missed an opportunity to present me as a commodity,” Ms Gohar said.
Source: Dawn
Date:12/10/2009

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