Workshop: Media urged to play role in empowering women

Speakers caution journalists against stereotyping gender identities.


Express December 09, 2011

ISLAMABAD:


Journalists in particular should not take gender relations and identities for granted.


Masud Alam, a journalist and media consultant discussed sensitised journalism during a workshop held by the International Labour Organisation for their project ‘Gender Equality for Decent Employment’ (GE4DE), on Thursday.

At least 800 journalists will be trained across the country under the project which aims to strengthen national mechanisms to promote equal employment for women, enhance skills and employability of poor women in rural and urban areas and strengthen the media’s capacity to raise awareness on issues related to working women. The workshop highlighted women’s vulnerability, marginalisation and physical, cultural and structural disempowerment. Participants engaged in various exercises deconstructing gender roles and came to the conclusion that qualities of any kind can be embodied by both sexes and the only factor that differentiates them is biological.

A video on violence against women revealed that 90 per cent women in Pakistan are victims of physical and emotional abuse in their own homes. The World Development Report was also screened which disclosed that 400,000 girls and women in developing countries are ‘missing’ (unborn girls who are aborted when their parents learn of their sex, die of neglect in infancy or die of poor health care). The report stated that “countries that pay attention to gender equality are not only doing the right thing but they also have better economy”. Nobel Prize winning economist Amartya Sen’s article on sophisticated elimination of women was also discussed during the workshop to identify structural disempowerment and the lack of equal opportunity for women.

The media being an institution itself can play a vital role in decreasing structural disempowerment. Alam explained that the role of journalism is to present accurate news based on respect for human rights and that it is often through fair reporting that rights violations are addressed. He stated that for an accurate story one must “see the story from the eyes of men and women”.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 9th, 2011. 

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