Seminar on women journalists and democracy: Women recount their success stories
Karachi: Women journalists believe that despite the various challenges faced by them in their increasingly competitive and sometimes difficult field, they have risen above the challenges and managed to highlight some very important issues.
Speaking at a seminar titled ‘Women journalists towards democracy: challenges and opportunities’, a noted name in Sindhi media, Humaira Noon, shared the obstacles she had to face before she hit the road to success. Belonging to a small town called Pannu Aqil, which lies at the border of Sindh and Punjab, Ms Noon’s father received phone calls condemning the first article with her byline. But she overcame the prejudices to emerge at the forefront of journalism and won the All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS) award on three occasions.
Her story was just one of the several shared by successful women journalists at the event. The event, attended by a large number of female journalists and students, was organized by the Women Media Centre in collaboration with APNS and supported by the National Endowment for Democracy.
“Seeing so many women here shows that they are thriving and democracy is flourishing,” said Khursheed Hyder, a senior editor at the Dawn newspaper.
Speakers mentioned that even though the participation of women in media organisations had increased, total equality still remained a target to be achieved. “Until we reach a time where women journalists are treated with equality, true democracy cannot be achieved,” said Fauzia Shaheen, executive director WMC.
Peter Lucas representing the Jang media group, mentioned that his organization employed approximately 300 women.
The Women Media Centre had organised a ten-day training programme for students interested in journalism last month and the seminar also served as a certificate distribution ceremony for the participants.
Journalists present at the occasion lauded the efforts of the very ‘vocal and vibrant’ regional media, which highlighted issues that mainstream Urdu and English media often ignored.
Urooj Zia, a freelance reporter, emphasized the need for women journalists to understand the law, so that sexual harassment in every walk of life could be prevented. She also pointed out that that during the genocide in Congo, while male reporters sent in stories of ethnic violence and civil war; it was a woman who first broke the story of gang rapes taking place. Therefore, according to her, women journalists have an edge over men, when it comes to accessing sensitive issues.
A session at the seminar was also conducted to bridge gaps between journalists in the print and electronic media. Sabin Agha of the Express media group mentioned difficulties faced by journalists of the electronic media to get membership at press clubs. “Journalists should act as a fraternity”, she said, elaborating the differences that exist between the two groups.
Sharmila Farooqi, chief guest on the occasion, emphasised that for democracy to take root, it was imperative to employe women in the decision-making process. In this regard, she said, it was not only the duty of politicians, but also the media practitioners “to shape public opinion and teach them how to make decisions”.
Source: The News