Female journalists call upon male counterparts to highlight challenges faced by women in news industry

Published November 14, 2019
Women journalists talk about issues they face in the media industry.
Women journalists talk about issues they face in the media industry.

The Coalition For Women In Journalism hosted a discussion Thursday at the Institute of Business Management on overcoming the many challenges women journalists face in Pakistan.

The session included CFWIJ member and senior journalist Afia Salam who discussed the different issues women journalists face in the industry and how those could be overcome. She detailed how investing in new digital media initiatives was the best way for people to adapt to a changing industry.

Salam also spoke about growing job insecurity within the media industry and said, “The media is used as a tool and manipulated by different forces in Pakistan. A missing business model has led to a shrinked space for journalists. However, this is the knowledge economy, and there is still a lot of space to work.”

She talked about her own experiences and compared them with the challenges women journalists face. “We had to work twice as hard as men to find our space in the media. Now when there are more women in the field, the threats they face have also grown,” she said.

Salam said that while there is the widespread notion that there are more and more women joining the media industry, the reality is quite different. “There are barely 11% women in the industry,” she said, adding that women only manage to take up roles as the face of a network and are missing from key leadership and decision-making roles in most organisations.

“The lack of representation in decision-making results in sexism in the workplace and sexism in the news being reported,” she said.

Discussing the importance of male allies, she said: “We can't get stuck in the them and us narrative. The men here need to be allies to make the industry stronger. Men and women must work together.”

The talk also included senior journalist Lubna Jerar Naqvi, who has worked in print, electronic as well as digital. Naqvi also spoke about the need for men in the industry to operate as allies for women journalists. “Men need to understand the issues women face; it's not enough for us to talk about them,” she said.

Naqvi said media needs to do more work when it comes to ethics and training. “Ethics and training are needed for stronger journalism. Our industry needs an overhaul and women can lead the change,” she said.

With respect to online safety amidst growing threats for women journalists, Naqvi advised aspiring journalists that “as media people, you need to be a little paranoid but it will keep you safe. Be mindful of your digital security as you work.”

Both speakers advised current and aspiring journalists to not push themselves into a dangerous place for a story so they may live to tell the tale.

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