Media can play a vital role in empowering women -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Media can play a vital role in empowering women

SABA HAKEEM

LAHORE: Speakers at a media training workshop on “Engendering Democratic Governance in South Asia” said the media can play a critical role in bringing women’s agenda forward and empowering them especially when it comes to women in politics. The workshop aimed at enhancing meaningful and equal participation of women in democratic governance by addressing the issues of gender based exclusion, violence and discriminatory practices in politics.

The workshop was aimed at enhancing meaningful and equal participation of women in democratic governance by addressing the issue of gender-based exclusion, violence and discriminatory practices in politics.

The workshop was addressed by Dr Rohit Kumar Nepali, Executive Director for the South Asia Partnership, Khawar Mumtaz Associated Shirkat Gah- Women’s Resource Centre, Rubina Saigol of Independent Civic and Social Organisation Professional, Professor Mehdi Hassan, analyst and Chairman Human Resource Commission of Pakistan, Kishwar Sultana National Co-ordinator, National Democracy Watch Group – Pakistan, Naeem Mirza, Chief Operating Officer of Aurat Foundation and Mohammad Tehseen founding Director of South Asia Partnership Pakistan.

Speaking on the occasion, Kumar said the question of equal participation of women in politics is being raised because of their importance, as they represent fifty percent of the entire population but left behind in the decision making process. Underling the causes, he said the structural, systemic and cultural hindrances alienate the women from power sharing process. He lamented that the visible and invisible violence against women in politics plays an important role in depriving them of the democratic governance decisions making positions. The gender imbalance at the decision making level is challenging the notion of gender equality, he said.

Kumar said the gap between women’s and men’s access to and control of resources and the benefits of development are still out of reach for most of women world-wide. However, in South Asia, the concept of power and authority is ascribed to certain social characteristics determined by the male privileged groups to exclude women. Women normally are not given the opportunity to hold the positions of power in politics, he added. He further said that marginalised and powerless women in our society are at great disadvantage and experience injustice in the political domain.

He claimed that female empowerment is restricted by the patriarchal attitudes perpetuated through social, cultural, religious and traditional values at different levels of society. He further said the women face considerable obstacle within political parties that provide far greater opportunities for upward mobility to men and women. He added that women politicians are also unlikely to challenge the structures that have brought them to power. Higher number of women in parliament generally contributes to stronger attention to women’s issues, he maintained.

Some other speakers praised women contribution alone as well as with men during internal political conflict and freedom fighting. They were of the view that the leadership quality of women could not be challenged as many of them have served as heads of state in South Asia and are recognised as prominent leaders who brought about changes in their countries.

They lamented that the political decision making has always been the domain of men, and women contribution in democratic development of nations are undermined and ignored and added that media could play role in influencing the people and changing the dynamics of the society. The South Asian media houses have few women in the decision making positions and to sustain even these few women use the man’s stereotyped lens to understand gender issues and lose the crux of women problems, they added.

The women desiring to enter politics have to face different kind of hardship and violence in the society but media is not highlighting the actual issues being faced by them. The reports on women politicians are found to be more focused on their attire or personal stories rather than their contribution towards society or betterment of political governance, they added.
Source: Business Recorder
Date:12/23/2010