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Pakistani media portrays women’s issues inaccurately: journalists

June 29, 2016
 
BY YUSRA JABEEN: Meet Safia Khurshid.  Safia was a menial wage-earner at a car showroom some 17 years ago. Now, this automobile-enthusiast is the CEO of her own car rental business in Islamabad and considers herself a successful businesswoman. However, the mainstream media hardly talks about women like Safia and/or honour their achievements, which it...




BY YUSRA JABEEN:

Meet Safia Khurshid. 

RentCar Saima collage

Safia was a menial wage-earner at a car showroom some 17 years ago.

Now, this automobile-enthusiast is the CEO of her own car rental business in Islamabad and considers herself a successful businesswoman.

However, the mainstream media hardly talks about women like Safia and/or honour their achievements, which it should.

This was the crux of the arguments made at a consultative meeting organised by Uks Research Centre, a media-monitoring and advocacy organisation, at a local hotel in Karachi on June 25.

The meeting was held in collaboration with National Endowment for Democracy, a US-based nonprofit that works to strengthen democratic institutions around the world.

Tasneem Ahmar, director at Uks, led the meeting where journalists from all walks of life participated.

Panelists at the meeting included renowned journalists like Afia Salam, Nabeeha Aslam, Farzana Ali and Shaista Yasmeen.

Ahmar, in her introductory remark, said the media in Pakistan needs to become more accurate in its portrayal of women in the country.

According to research quoted by the organizers, over 75% of Pakistani women live in poverty, hunger, illness, illiteracy and drudgery.

However, that is not what is portrayed in the media, the panelists argued.

“The print, electronic and social media need to recognize the reality of Pakistani women,” read a statement circulated at the meeting. “[The media] should honour [the reality of Pakistani women] by eliminating existing disrespectful, humiliating and/or glamorous stereotypes… and other harmful portrayals,” it further added.

While talking about how advertising agencies can become more gender-balanced, Salam said when a mother feeds her child a glass of milk, it is not necessary she gives it to her son. “She can give it to both her daughter and her son, right?” Salam said, rhetorically.

“Such portrayals will help us fight the perception that the male child needs more nutrition than the female child,” Salam added, saying this way, the health of both men and women need to be valued.

“Journalists and reporters need to stop phrasing headlines that vilify women when clearly the man is at fault,” Aslam said.

Ali, the Peshawar bureau chief of Aaj TV, said women need to keep fighting for their rights in all spheres and walks of life.

“Keep addressing the issues women face, no matter who tells you to compromise your ethics,” Ali said while advising journalists not to give in to yellow journalism and gender-insensitive reporting. – SAMAA
 
 
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