LAHORE: It was supposed to be a gathering, though small, of Lahori female bloggers. But it wasn’t. It wasn’t exactly a meeting of aspiring bloggers either. It could be best described as a group of curious young women – curious about social media.
Sponsored by Mobilink, the 1st Lady Bloggers Meetup took place at Cafe Rock on Friday at 4pm. Aware that the clique of bloggers is small; the organisers were not expecting more than 40 people at best. The event was advertised through the word of mouth and via its facebook page. “Within a day we received as many as 50-60 registration requests, which is a big number for such events,” said Sadaf Majdy, the public relations associate and the event organiser. There were many requests for registration that the organiser had to turn down, keeping in view the aim of the meet-up. “It wasn’t just about women getting together. It was about tech-savvy, digitally active women,” Majdy explained. According to her there were many women who created a blog or an online profile just so they could come attend the event.
By 4 pm, only four or five women had showed up but they kept trickling in and by 4:30 pm, most of the 36 seats had been occupied. A majority of those in attendance were students, some at schools, some at universities. Before the event started Majdy had said, “We are hoping to get a few female bloggers who can talk about their experiences with blogging. Female bloggers, during such meet-ups in other cities, have talked about the problems that they face. Many of them say that they are reluctant to blog with their real names, because they are scared of harassment.”
The discussion was informal with Majdy acting as the moderator. A blogger herself, she talked about the potential blogs had for making money. “I think that is a great opportunity that women can avail. They just need to be told about it and encouraged,” she added. During the discussion, she kept on asking questions about why the audience thought women did not make better use of the social media and blogs. A majority of the young women in attendance said that it was because not many had heard of blogging or twitter, “More women are on Facebook than twitter because they’ve heard about it,” one said. “Women prefer Facebook over twitter because it is more ‘colourful’ with pictures and comments,” another chipped in. “Twitter is quite complicated for women. They need to be told how to make use of hash-tags, how to re-tweet etc,” said Amna Tariq, a UET student who is an avid tweeter.
The most exciting part of the meeting was the competition. Those in attendance had to post “Attending Mobilink’s 1st Lady Bloggers Meetup! And I proudly support active presence of women in digital media” as their status. The person with the most ‘Likes’, Amna Tariq in this case, won the Motorola Flipout phone.
Saira Ansari was the only real blogger at the meet-up, who blogs about art, the critique of art rather. “My blog is an insolent art critique project aimed at pointing fingers at the practices and ethics of commercial art galleries and the art institutes in Pakistan,” she said. Ansari had come to get introduced to more bloggers from Lahore but was disappointed, “There is no blogger here. There are women who tweet or use Facebook, and though using social media is good, it’s not blogging.”
When asked whether she thought the short event had been a success, Majdy said, “Yes, I think so. Even if we didn’t get many ‘real’ bloggers, there were a lot of women who are aspiring bloggers and social media users. This was just the first step. We need to keep on planning such events and keep pushing women, keep talking to them about blogging and using social media to raise their voices.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 26th, 2011.