PPF announces Gender in Journalism Awards 2009: Need stressed to encourage women journalists in Pakistan -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

PPF announces Gender in Journalism Awards 2009: Need stressed to encourage women journalists in Pakistan

Karachi, March 09 (PPI): The Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), in collaboration with the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), here on Sunday gave Gender in Journalism Awards to journalists and writers for their best articles and reports on gender-based issues in Pakistan.

Massoud Ansari (Monthly Herald) received Gender in Journalism Award 2009 for covering gender issue by any male or female journalist on his article “The Ticking bomb”, while Qudssia Akhlaque (The News) bagged the award for ’Coverage on Gender Sensitive Issue’ on her article “Political Parties and National Security”. Both of them also received Rs50,000 cash award.

The award-giving ceremony was held at a local hotel, which was attended by senior journalists and editors from print and electronic media.

Chief Guest prominent writer Fatima Suraiya Bajya and Secretary General, PPF, Owais Aslam Ali bestowed the awards to the winners.

Owais Aslam Ali, addressing on the occasion, said in our society women journalists are equally accomplished as the male journalists. He said it is encouraging that women journalists are now joining both print and electronic media, but this change is occurring very slowly.

He said the number of women journalists working in both rural and urban areas of Pakistan is still very low. “We need to think how can we increase the number of female journalists.”

He said joining of women to media is a demand-driven phenomenon, he said adding in electronic media the number of women journalists increased, when there was a demand for them. Even in the rural areas women journalists would be available if the demand is there, he added.

He said women journalists in rural areas are competent enough to work in national newspapers but their capabilities are being not utilized, he said.

Regarding the PPF Gender in Journalism Awards, he said we have two awards for the categories of “Outstanding Coverage of gender issue by male or female journalists” and “Outstanding Coverage on Gender Sensitive Issue”. This is the sixth year that we are holding these awards and this time journalists from Islamabad and Peshawar have also participated for the awards, he said.

For both awards over 100 entries were made and a three-member committee was formed which sorted out 25 toppers for each category, he said. Those 25 toppers of each category were sent to team of three judges each, who selected the 5 finalists, he added.
The five finalists for first category, “Outstanding Coverage of gender issue by male or journalists”, were Massoud Ansari from Monthly Herald for topic “The Ticking bomb”, Ghazala Fasih from Nawa-e-Waqt for “Kaanch ki Choorian”, Aurangzeb Khan from Monthly Herald for “Pride and the Prejudice”, Yousuf Ali from The News for “Engendered species”, and Moniza Inam from Weekly Review for “Victims of Inhumane Society”.

The five finalist for second category, “Outstanding Coverage on Gender Sensitive Issue”, were Qudssia Akhlaque from The News for “Political Parties and National Security, Hina Shahid from Weekly Review for “Bangle Industry”, Mifrah Haq from Newsline Magazine for “Deadly Spillage”, Shumaila Matri Dawood from Monthly News for “Life below the line” and Fatima Khursheed from Newsline Magazine for “Food for Though”.

Noted Urdu writer and columnist Zahida Hina, addressing on the occasion, said so far no female journalist has been killed while discharging professional responsibilities, but such conditions have been created that any untoward incident could occur with any woman journalist.

The journalists reporting from rural areas face more problems and threats as compared to urban journalists, she said. There is a wide range of issues on which women journalists could write, she said adding they should stop thinking that they can write only on women-related issues.

The females in our society face three types of problems, said columnist Bina Sarwar. The first one is the patriarchal strain, which includes child marriage, marriage with Quran, Wanni, Suwara and others such black traditions. She said these negative traditions restrict individual rights and it is not only woman who becomes victim but man is equally victimized of them, she said. “We need to look at this problem in socio political content,” she added.

The second type of problem is faced by women of tribal areas due to anti-women traditions of Taliban. She said Taliban had started created these problems in the tribal areas even before the 9/11 and it is a misperception that things would be reformed if US and NATO forces withdraw from this region.

The third problem is that the journalists do not give full and extensive coverage to these issues, she said. The journalists should ensure that they cover the issues in which girls face problems, especially their free will marriages.

Senior writer and columnist Zubeda Mustafa said I like the idea that male or female journalists should not be bound to cover some specific issues, but they should be allowed to cover all the issues. The journalists should be very careful, while covering the gender sensitive issues, she advised.

The issues should never be compartmentalized, as ’women issues’ may belong to anyone and create problems for the entire society. Gender sensitive issues should be brought in mainstream and special care should be taken for sensitivity and both genders of journalists should be allowed to cover these issues, she said.

We have always had enlightened women in our society, said Chief Guest, Fatima Suraiya Bajya.

It is a big honour for anyone to be a journalist and huge responsibility lies on those girls who are enlightened and working as journalists, she added.
Source: The Nation