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No diversity in Media without Women: Experts

A one-day seminar on "Diversity in Media-Challenges and Opportunities" was organized by Tribal News Network (TNN) in Peshawar. A large number of women and men along with senior journalists, teachers, and media trainers participated in the event.

by TNN Editor - 15 Mar, 2023 1518

Media experts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa said on Tuesday, women should be included in decision-making levels in media institutions because without them creating an atmosphere of diversity in broadcasting institutions and diversifying broadcasting content is impossible.

A one-day seminar on "Diversity in Media-Challenges and Opportunities" was organized by Tribal News Network (TNN) in Peshawar. A large number of women and men along with senior journalists, teachers, and media trainers participated in the event.

Speaking on this occasion, media experts and teachers of the journalism departments said that in Pakistani media, various marginalized communities, including women, are not given a fair place, whether it is in the form of employment in media institutions or in the form of broadcasting content.

Addressing the seminar, Prof. Dr. Faizullah Jan, Chairman of the Journalism and Mass Communication Department at the University of Peshawar, told the participants that unfortunately, like our society, our media is dominated by men, women were reserved only for presentation, “their true representation in broadcast content is not possible until and unless women are brought forward as reporters and editors.”

He said that the women reporters are given such beats in which it is very difficult to build a career, the environment inside the newsrooms is not considered favorable for women, nor special arrangements are made for them to come and go to the office. All these factors prevent women from advancing in this field.

Prof. Dr. Faizullah Jan emphasized adding more content related to diversity and inclusivity in the courses of the media department and said that it is only through these classrooms that the mindset of the students is formed which helps them when they start working in the field.

Also Read: Diversity and pluralism ensure inclusivity in Pakistani Media, The study reveals

At the beginning of the seminar, Director of TNN Syed Nazir Afridi, explaining the aims and objectives of the seminar, said that the media should be a reflection of its region and all the people, but in our country, men talk about issues related to women.

He said that Afghanistan is discussed by people who have not been there; the disabled and transgenders are not discussed. He said that there is a dire need to consider these issues and change these traditions otherwise future generations will never forgive us for these mistakes.

Syed Nazir further said that 65% of the population of our country consists of youth who do not give much importance to these old platforms like radio, TV, and newspapers. Media organizations need Tik Tok and Instagram to reach this segment of the population. Now the only media organizations that are successful are those that reach out to the youth via their favorite platforms.

Talking about diversity in the media, Syed Nazir Afridi said that TNN has been keeping these issues in view for a long time, "We have just conducted a fellowship program in the whole country on the flood, in which we have given a record 30% representation to women journalists."

The director of TNN said that apart from women, TNN is the only institution in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where a transgender has his journalistic responsibility. Apart from this, last year, 26 Afghan refugees were also trained in citizen journalism so that they could bring their problems to the fore.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's first woman TV Bureau Chief Farzana Ali also participated in the seminar.

She attributed her success to continuous hard work and said that to reach this point, she faced the displeasure of her family, the taunts of people, and the hypocrisy of her colleagues in the field, but she never backed down.

Farzana Ali also termed the involvement of women in decision-making in the media as the need of the hour and said that this is the marginalized segment of society and only by giving them more space in the media can their deprivation be reduced to some extent.

She made it clear to the new women journalists that this field is not easy but they should not give up. There will be leg-pulling at every step but there is no dearth of good colleagues who are very supportive of women.

The female bureau chief further said that one of the main reasons for the lack of female journalists in our media and especially in TV stations is the 24-hour duty which can start at any time, even at night.

On this occasion, Peshawar's senior journalist and former president of Peshawar Press Club, Shamim Shahid, also described the lack of women in the field of journalism as a big loss and said that due to their absence, the content related to this segment of the society is also very less in the media.

He said that there are only 18 women members in the Peshawar Press Club of 550 members. The same is the case with the Khyber Union of Journalists. Members of journalists' bodies want more women in the field, but they don't join in for various reasons.

The senior journalist said that since 2019, new membership has been banned in Peshawar Press Club which will end in April this year. He hoped that many new girls will apply for registration as the field now sees many new faces of women.

On this occasion, Zahid Dawar, a special person from North Waziristan trained in citizen journalism by TNN, said that disability never became his weakness, while after receiving training from TNN, he gave the same training to dozens of young people in his area. Today, our culture and positive face are being shown to the world through social media.

He further informed that by applying this training, he has established a library in his area with the support of local philanthropists while also providing scholarships to dozens of underprivileged students.

Addressing the seminar, Khawaja Sara Soobia Khan, who works at TNN, urged other media organizations to emulate TNN and said that if people from her community were given such decent professions, they would be a part of society. They can earn a good name and bring forth their problems in a better way.

Najiba Arian, a female journalist from Afghanistan, also addressed the seminar and said that when she came to Pakistan after the fall of Kabul, she was afraid of being homeless as well as being hungry, but then she was soon offered a job in the local media organization-- Wahdat Digital.

She also urged other media organizations to provide opportunities to displaced Afghan journalists. There are more than two million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan, but there is no content for them in the media, and no one talks about their problems. With the arrival of Afghan journalists in media institutions, reporting on topics related to them will also increase and this will be a welcome move.

Speaking at the seminar, senior journalist and media trainer Aurangzeb Khan said that the main work and purpose of the media should be to represent the downtrodden sections of society, but unfortunately, this is not the case at all. If we look at the media content, most of the coverage is given to politics and politicians, there is hardly any content related to the marginalized community.

He said that it will take a long time to change these traditions and the agenda of the media but hopefully one day this change will definitely come.