Media houses urged to reserve seats for women staffers

National Women Conference

Zubair Qureshi

Female journalists across the country on Tuesday demanded representation of women on reserved seat in all media regulatory bodies and journalistic bodies.
The demand is a part of the declaration announced at the end of a two-day National Women Conference jointly organized by National Press Club (NPC), United Nations Information Center (UNIC) and British High Commission (BHC) to commemorate International Women Day.
Around 60 women journalists and Presidents of Press Clubs from Karachi, Quetta, Lahore, Multan, Hyderabad and Peshawar participated in the conference. The conference was inaugurated with one-day training on safety of digital space and legal protection for women journalists. The second day featured interactive panel discussions on solutions of the issues faced by women journalists. State Minister for Information Marriyum Aurangzaib graced the concluding day as the chief guest.
The declaration, presented by the women members of the NPC governing body, also demanded provision of basic facilities for women in the media houses on priority bases and formation of committees to address complaints of sexual harassment in all media houses, unions and press clubs. Besides that, the declaration called for increase of the quota for women journalists in government run women hostels and provision of free legal services.
Speaking on the occasion, Marriyum Aurangzaib said it was heartening to see all the stakeholders getting together in order to create enabling environment for women in media. She stressed the need to work with men to ensure women rights in true spirit.
On the occasion Anchorperson Tanzila Mazhar also described her experience at PTV saying the male dominating social mindset in our society protects the harassers instead of providing justice to the victim. Vice President National Press Club Naveed Akbar briefed the participants about the measures taken by the NPC in talking the issue. He said that NPC has recently announced Committee on Harassment which will deal with such complaints in future.
President National Press Club Shakeel Anjum said it was the responsibility of all media persons to create enabling environment for women in media. He urged all press clubs to follow the example of NPC in reserving seats for women journalists in the governing body.
Deputy Political Counselor for British High Commission Jude Muxworthy talked about the importance of mainstreaming women in media. She said that all stakeholders shall work together in identifying and solving the issues faced by women in media.
Earlier, the panelists of different sessions shared their experiences, the measures taken to ensure women rights and the areas that require special attention. Special Assistant to Prime Minister Musadik Malik talked about the initiatives taken by the government and stressed for the need of more efforts to ensure gender equality. “We are moving in the right direction but a lot need to be done to protect women rights,” he said.
Rights activist Dr Maliha Hussain called for the implementation of anti-harassment legislation in media houses and journalistic bodies. She said that after Protection of Women against Harassment at Workplace Act 2010, it is obligatory for all originations to have committees on harassment and also to display the code of conduct at a visible place in the organization.
Director United Nations Information Center Vittorio Cammarota talked about the background of organizing the conference. He termed it a positive sign that a large number of women have joined Pakistani media. He said that the objective of the conference was to create awareness on labour laws and digital safety among women journalists and share inspiring success stories in addition to identifying key challenges and opportunities for women in the media.

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