Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) has called on the country’s media to seriously examine the safety of female staff members within their organizations and implement measures to provide a safe working environment that would encourage women to enter the profession in greater numbers.In a statement issued on the International Women Day, PPF lamented that females are a dismal five percent of workforce in Pakistani media compared to over 25 percent for the Asia Pacific region.
Women are even rarer in corporate and editorial boards, or in positions of authority such as editors, bureau chiefs, director news, chief reporters, etc. On television, female anchors and talk show hosts are relegated to the ‘soft’ morning shows and very few women are given the opportunity to host prime time current affairs programmes.
Gender balance is also missing in unions and press clubs, although some do reserve one seat for female members.Pakistan is amongst the most dangerous countries of the world for journalists and it is difficult for media personnel to work in a secure atmosphere. Additionally female media practitioners also face sexual harassment, threats and violence from both within the profession itself as well as from society at large.Intimidation and sexual harassment of females in work places is a serious barrier to the entry of women in Pakistani media.
According to a research on Pakistani media by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) one in five females has personally experienced sexual harassment at the workplace. Three out of every four women had been sexually harassed simply do not report the incidents because of absent or ineffective grievance redressal mechanisms and fear of reprisals or social stigma.