Media asked to play role in gender awareness

National Media Sensitisation workshop involves exercises, discussion.

Aroosa Shaukat September 22, 2011


The Gender Equity Programme of the Aurat Foundation in collaboration with US AID and Individualland Pakistan, conducted a media sensitisation workshop on Thursday. Gulmina Bilal, the Individualland director, said the general public as well as a majority of the 180 journalists who were part of a recent survey on gender equity failed to fully relate to the term ‘gender equity.’

The National Media Sensitisation workshop, which attracted participants from various newspapers in Lahore, had previously been conducted in Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta and Faisalabad. The workshop aimed to train workers in identifying gender issues and determining the role of media in creating gender awareness and sensitisation in society.

A survey taken by the Gender Equity Program 2011, from February to May 2011, reported that even in ‘conservative’ areas the public acknowledged that the media had created awareness on issues of education, family planning and health.

“Amongst the journalists from Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa almost 90 per cent have yet to advocate gender equality,” Bilal said.

According to Bilal, the full potential for awareness raising regarding gender equality had yet to be explored.

Rehana Shaikh, who works on development-with-a-focus-on-gender, worked with the participants in defining generic terms related to gender awareness.

“In today’s world, there is no denying the role of media as a major stakeholder in shaping public opinions,” Shaikh said.

The sessions included group activities to expose the participants to a variety of issues pertaining to gender equity. TV host Tauseeq Haider led open discussions, and idea generation and expression exercises. Most of the participants pledged, by signing commitment forms, to help raise awareness regarding gender equality.

Mehmal Sarfraz, an editor at a newspaper, said such exercises were a great initiative to ‘gender sensitise’ the media. “Media organisations should educate their journalists in workshops in collaboration with NGOs,” Sarfraz said. She added that there was an urgent need to teach media ethics to journalists to ensure accurate reporting and protecting the victims, regardless of their gender.

The workshops will continue for two more days, focusing on the electronic media and their role in achieving gender equity. The next workshops thereafter are planned for Multan.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2011.


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