Presentation on theme: "Myra Imran Staff correspondent The News Journalism: Women's contributions Myra Imran Staff Reporter The News."— Presentation transcript:
Myra Imran Staff correspondent The News Journalism: Women's contributions Myra Imran Staff Reporter The News
In almost every part of the world, men dominated the domain of journalism for a long time. It was in the mid 20th century that some women ventured to be journalists in the western countries. But it was in the late 20th century that the number of female journalists increased considerably.
The situation was same in the subcontinent where men dominated media and publication sector. As education was highly discouraged for Muslim women, very few dared to be journalists before the emergence of Pakistan. The first magazine (Urdu) meant for Muslim women was Tahzeeb-e-Niswan which was published in 1898 under the influence of Tahzeeb-ul-Akhlaq of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.
It was not a very good start from feminists point of view but it indicated that much needed change started happening. Logic The few names of women journalists of that time included Sughra Begum, Maryam Begum, Imtiaz Fatima, Begum Ghafoor, Salah Khatoon etc.
In 1948 Fatima Begum a worker of Pakistan movement launched a daily Urdu paper Khatoon from Lahore. Womens Page: In 1948 a daily newspaper Inqilab from Lahore (1927) started publishing a page womens page on daily basis. The main caption of the page was Nisayat. It contained articles relating to womens development & welfare, recepies, information about knitting and stitching. Womens Edition: In 1949 daily Imroz started in match publishing a weakly womens edition. Its sister publication The Pakistan Times also started women section which being appeared on Sunday. Dawn also followed suit. Now about all English and Urdu dailies are publishing weekly womens editions under different names.
Women started entering mainstream journalism and challenged the norms. They became editors of newspapers and political magazines like Razia Bhatti, Sherry Rehman and Maleeha Lodhi Fauzia Shahid became the General Secretary of PFUJ. There was Zahida Hina, Rubab Ayesha, Mariana Babar, These women had expertise in current affairs, economics, foreign policy, human rights, good governance and conflict resolution.
Female journalists started working as reporters and sub-editors and features writer in They paved the way for the upcoming women journalists by surviving and fighting with the odds in highly male dominated media industry-they entered the domain of hard news. But, the number remained very thin. There was a huge retention issue that still exists. Majority of women who joined at that time ultimately left media.
With rapid boom in electronic media, a new breed of women journalists emerged. Women journalists from Karachi to Peshawar proved they have the ability to work and the willpower and conviction to do their work in a professional and meaningful way. Furthermore, they demonstrated a unique adeptness towards political, economic and social issues and have successfully honed in on niches that had previously remained neglected. They proved themselves with investigative, business, human interest and child-friendly stories through view points that male journalists had not touched upon.
They highlighted the problems faced by women. They represented women. They introduced gender aspect. They became role models for women. They highlighted social issue, an ignored area, as never been covered before. They joined journalist unions and strived to make media industry environment friendly for women. They boosted the image of the country.
Despite the progress and breakthroughs, working conditions in media organizations, electronic and print, remained discouraging, difficult and prejudiced for women. disparity in salaries as compared to male colleagues stability and sustainability of employment lack of peer respect lack of basic gender sensitive facilities and awareness and, worst of all varying types of harassment.
The number of women journalists remained extremely low. WJP data: In Rawalpindi and Islamabad, there are 68 women journalists, around 12 cover parliament with 5 mainly reporting on the women parliamentarians. Only one women journalist among these 12 covers foreign office, one covers Prime Minister and one covers political party (PML N). Remaining 56 women journalists cover social issues mainly education, culture, women, youth, children, human rights, science and technology, social welfare and health. Among total 68 women journalists, 13 are the members of National Press Club which means only a small percentage can vote or contest in the elections.
For women journalists to have an impact and be productive the first issue that needs to be fixed is the work place and work atmosphere. The work place has been a male-dominated domain for so long that male spoken and body language is frequently off-putting for females and little has been done to change this prevalent state of affairs. Women journalists are forever on the guard and cannot relax for a moment. The anxiety resulting from such a work atmosphere affects their professional performance with the result that most women journalists never progress beyond their initial duties.
One of the worst problems faced by women journalists is professional and sexual harassment by colleagues, management, contacts and even government/semi-government officials. If and when a complaint is made, it is treated with amusement, cynicism, indignity and anger. It is treated as an affront to the organization and considered an attempt to dishonor and disgrace the organization as well as the accused individual. Harassment of female media persons comes in many forms within the office: Frequently, female reporters/media persons find that its not just their colleagues that can be troublesome or the authors of harassment. In the line of their duty, while interviewing news makers, government officials and people of influence they often come across unreasonable demands. These usually include been asked out for lunch/dinner, asked for their telephone number, offers of marriage or friendship, offers of better jobs and even promises of foreign postings… all at a cost of course.
Whispered innuendo every time a female media person passes by Deliberately walking or pushing past in close proximity Intruding on personal space while talking, rumors Discussions/jokes of unpleasant and unsavory nature within earshot of females Asking women journalists/media workers for their telephone numbers Telephoning for reasons unrelated to work Familiarity where none is been encouraged Deliberately sending female media persons to places not required to go. Unsolicited invitations to lunch/dinner Deliberately spoiling/putting up hurdles, Deliberately downplaying good work Deliberately intruding and interfering with official work Insults and sarcasm where none is needed Threatening termination of service if certain physical favors are not provided Withholding salaries Withholding benefits
Female media workers should have the comfort and confidence in their employers to provide stability and sustainability in employment. However, this is far from reality. Whenever a media house has financial difficulties or the management makes a decision to downsize, women media workers are the first to get the chop. This lack of professional appreciation often leaves women media workers embittered and hampers their potential. Women media workers need to be aware of their work rights. They have to have the confidence to be able to tell their male colleagues and bosses that they are serious contenders for the long term and are professionally up there with them and rather than letting gender decide matters.
Sadly enough female journalist/media persons, unless they are TV anchors/hosts, get paid extremely poorly. Their salaries are almost always much lower than their male counterparts. The salaries are so unattractive that many potential female journalists and media persons either get disheartened and quit or are encouraged to leave by their family and parents. Parental, social and monetary compulsion finally take their toll as women leave media to join other more financially rewarding and stable jobs. This is regretful because ever so often a budding media person/journalist is lost before shes even hit her stride. With no realistic steps taken to ensure retaining and encouraging women in journalism, it comes as no surprise that the large influx of women that came into media three to four years back have quit and taken up other professions.
Another major challenge they face is mobility One of the first questions asked at interviews for media jobs is: What mode of transport do you have? Despite this setback most women working in media houses use public transportation like buses, Suzukis, and wagons all of which are highly unfriendly. This makes access to various work-related areas and spots difficult for women. Strangely enough a simple solution would be to provide female staff with office transport as do many other organizations in Pakistan. But this has not yet occurred to most media houses. Another solution would be to provide female journalists with soft loans to redress mobility issues.
One of the biggest problems holding back the development of women journalists and media persons is the lack of motivation and professionalism. There is no formal in-house training process in any media house to guide and supervise new comers to media. This is because of lack of planning, lack of vision, lack of awareness and a dont care attitude which disncourages newcomers, especially women, to learn the dos and donts of the profession the hard way. They are left at the mercies of whoever is available to show them bits and pieces of work and therefore are more likely to pick up bad habits and a non-professional approach towards work. What is happening is that journalists, including female media persons, no longer have the patience to learn the skills and knowledge required to master the job. Lack of professionalism also results in lack of motivation.
Media houses and organizations purposely either side step or completely pretend that there is no need to provide women media workers with basic facilities and rights such as medical, transport and old age benefits. Many media houses do not have the provision of allowing women a reasonable period of maternity leave. Although Pakistani laws permit a period of 12 weeks, most media houses want new mothers back by the end of the fourth week after delivery. Although women workers with small children have taken up the issue many times, no provision is made for setting up an in-house day care centre.
Although Pakistan boasts a healthy number of media associations and press clubs, hardly a step has been taken by them to facilitate women journalists and media persons. Indeed women journalists only have associate membership of the National Press Club. This is primarily because of the misplaced perception that women media persons do not last in their job long enough. The same is the case with most press clubs and usually women are provided one unused room to carry out their professional and recreational activities.
Seminars, workshops, and courses designed to improve the capacity and professional skills of journalists in Pakistan are rare events and are usually conducted by international donor agencies. The concept of in-house capacity building usually never occurs and any such knowledge is passed on from senior sot juniors correctly on incorrectly. Women rarely avail the opportunities of international courses, scholarships and workshops.
Training & Capacity Building Building a Vibrant & Responsible Network Cultivating & Grooming Effective Leaders Honoring Courage & Competence Awareness of Rights Better Workplace Facilities Better Salaries Accreditation, International Scholarships & Tours News and reporters rooms be made more gender friendly. Gender- friendly behavioral code should be formulated an enforced. All female media persons and their male colleagues must be aware of sexual harassment laws.