ISLAMABAD, Jan 2: A myriad of successful women here on Friday attended the launch of Diary 2009 produced by Uks – a research, resource and publication centre on women and media.

The diary titled Women of Pakistan: Striving for Visibility and Power in the Media focuses on women, who have featured in the media because of their respective professions and hard work.

The cover, which is in black and white, is flanked by pictures of prominent women in Pakistan’s history in chronological order, such as Maleeha Lodhi, Sherry Rehman, and many more.

At the end of the diary is a chronology of women who have featured in the media, some of whom have a unique profession such as Fareshteh Gati Aslam, a sports journalist, and Nigar Nazar, the first woman cartoonist of Pakistan.

During the launching ceremony, speakers observed that many women in the media, who deserved senior positions, were not getting those positions despite their merit and output.This was verified by Kaneez Fatima, a broadcaster of Radio Pakistan, who is now a station manager.

Ms Fatima started her career in 1984 and was typically assigned to report soft stories and discouraged from covering events such as sports, current affairs and stories considered to be dominated by men.

She felt that she was not trusted to do VIP coverage or political events, but despite the hurdles she continued showing interest in non-conventional assignments, such as sports, which led her to become the first woman to cover cricket in Pakistan.

She proved herself to be on par with her male colleagues and went to Chakwal and Mandi Bahauddin to cover sport events.

“I would force myself to compete professionally with my male colleagues and my experience is that don’t make mistakes because as a woman you are not forgiven and labeled as incompetent whereas the same mistake made by a man is considered part of professional growth,” Ms Fatima said

Another speaker was Asma Shirazi from the electronic media, who began her career with private FM radio channels and then went to Radio Pakistan Islamabad and world service.

“I would have been sidelined, but I forced to get myself scheduled for challenging coverage”. In a private television channel, she got the opportunity to cover the Lebanon and Israel war, the elections in India and subsequently did investigative reporting in Pakistan.

Asma emotionally continued by saying that the hurdles were a blessing to make you go through the mill and persevere. “No one will stand up for you, don’t give up it’s a battle for survival.”

On a humorous note, Dr Maleeha Lodhi, who was representing the print media, said she would only participate in the event on the condition that she was not introduced as a veteran.

Dr Lodhi said it was amusing how she was taking care of the editorial responsibilities for a whole year but was not given the position or the byline until she asked the proprietors, who responded by saying, “how will you handle this position?”

Given that she was already doing the work minus the designation for a whole year – this came to her as a surprise. She described how the training in a local English-language newspaper was an asset because she was made to sit through every department to learn a newspaper’s structure.

It was difficult being a trailblazer back in the day, the credit which goes to people like Razia Bhatti.

“There is no room for self pity and you just carry on doing what you have to do,” said Maleeha Lodhi.



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