“No discrimination, No harassment”: Minister assures women journalists

Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD: Speaking at the second day of the conference on ‘Gender Discrimination in Media and Capacity Building for Female Journalists’, Minister for Interior, Rehman Malik stated that “let there be no discrimination” on basis of gender as “women render great contributions in every walk of life” and discrimination only promotes injustice.

While addressing the participants at National Press Club (NPC), Islamabad, the minister said on Sunday that government has decided to establish committees at provincial level soon in order to deal with harassment issues and implement the ‘Anti-Sexual Harassment Act’ efficiently. The committee would comprise of members of Women Division, Home Secretaries and Inspector General Police and NPC representation including a team of women journalists headed by senior journalist Rubab Ayesha, he told.

Rehman Malik urged the media houses to endow the working journalists with health “insurance and training” for dangerous encounters.

Rehman Malik, Interior Minister; Senator Nilofer Bakhtiar; Farzana Raja, Chairperson of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP); Madam Ulrika Sendburg, Ambassador of Sweden to Pakistan; MNA Rubina Sadaat Qaim Khani, were the special guests on the occasion. While Afzal Butt, President NPC and a number of female journalists from Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta, Multan and Hyderabad also participated in the women convention.

Farzana Raja said that “sexual harassment bill and women standing committee is an assurance that government supports the cause of the unprivileged women in the society.” She added that, the “government is successfully carrying forward Benazir Bhutto’s mission of women empowerment and BISP is one of its examples which has provided financial assistance to around four million families.”

Speaking to the the female journalists, Ms Bakhtiar said that women journalists were not seen during the flood reporting, but if given a chance, they could have highlighted the women issues in a better manner. She offered training for women journalist in disaster reporting by Hilal-e-Ahmar and on harassment at workplaces by her NGO ‘Bardasht’. As women have 17 percent representation in Parliament and 33 percent representation in local government, “empowered women must join hands with deprived women to ensure their equal status” she suggested.

An interactive cartoon display of Gogi by Nigar Nazar, the first woman cartoonist of Pakistan was also part of the programme. Gogi is Nazar’s mouthpiece which is described by her as “the symbol of the enlightened, energetic and adventurous Pakistani woman who refuses to be conventional to authority.” Rehman Malik also announced cash assistance Rs 100,000 from the government for a blind girl Ammara from Gogi Studios.

Ms. Ulrika Sendburg said that the convention has highlighted the gender discrimination in Pakistani media. Even Sweden female journalists face problems in coverage of war and conflict zone however they overcome the hazards with bravery.

Earlier while speaking at the conference, journalist, Mazhar Abbas elaborated different aspects of conflict reporting. The participants also shed light on the threats to women journalists while reporting from conflict zone. Women journalist as a trade union leader and experiences of female reporters in jail were also shared on the concluding day of the conference. Interior Minister assured earlier that “steps are being taken to have representation of women police in all the police stations to handle the cases of females.” While women lock-ups are also being separated, he added.

National Press Club will forward the recommendations of the ‘Women Journalist Convention’ after finalization of draft with the Presidents of the Press Clubs of the four provinces under the Chairmanship of Waheed Hussain, Director News, PTV.

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