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Women Journalists Association Pakistan

It is an established fact that women are an integral part of Pakistani media. Professionally, they match, sometimes even exceed, their male colleagues in analytical and investigative skills as well as in ethical journalism. With their distinctive approach to political, economic and social issues, women journalists have successfully highlighted the human angle. They have proven themselves, both in the print, electronic and digital media. Around a decade ago, there were very few women in Pakistani journalism. Things changed with the opening of a string of television channels as many new faces joined in. These motivated girls were a valuable addition to the Pakistani media. Viewers, readers and listeners, have all appreciated their work. But unfortunately, we saw another decline in the number of women journalists due to prevailing media crisis in the country. Already bearing with concerning working conditions in the media houses such as low salaries, lack of professionalism, non-existence of basic facilities for employees like health, old age benefits etc, no job security, non-conducive work environment in majority of media organizations and accessibility issues – women journalists face new challenges with prevailing media crisis. Many good journalists, who used to cover health, education, human rights and social issues – lost their jobs as they became the first victims of recent downsizing. This is one of the reasons why the Pakistani media is now overly dominated by politics and security related media coverage ignoring the issues that actually affect the general public. According to Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, around 8000 journalists and media workers lost their jobs in the current media crisis. Another issues that has largely affected the women woman journalists is online harassment. Majority of women anchors and vloggers regularly face abuse and life and rape threats on social media with no effective and exclusive redressal mechanism in place for them. Despite their extraordinary contributions, the percentage of women journalists in unions and media representative bodies is very low. Those who were able to make some place remain ineffective because of male domination in decision making, underrepresentation and lack of leadership skills. In an effort to create a collective platform to address these issues and raise a strong voice for the rights of women journalists, the Women Journalists Association (WJA) Pakistan was announced by a group of women journalists on March 13, 2021 in Islamabad. A declaration was issued on that occasion which demanded;

1. Allocation of 33 per cent seats for women journalists in PFUJ and other decision-making and representative bodies as well as Pakistan Press Council and committees made under the upcoming Journalist Protection Law.

2. Provision of basic facilities in media houses including day-care centers, separate washrooms and rest rooms.

3. Establishment of sexual harassment complaint committees in every media house, union offices and press clubs under the Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace 2010 Act

4. Special desk to deal with online harassment cases of women journalists at the Federal Investigation Agency Cyber Crime Cell.

5. Gender audit of media houses to assess the existing number of women in media.

6. Necessary amendment in law to make sure the presence of at least 33 per cent women in any media organizations. No license or declaration shall be issued to any newspaper or channel unless they have a minimum 33 per cent women employed as their staff member.

7. Provision of transport facilities for women journalists.

8. Paid three-month maternity leave for female journalists as per constitution or ILO Convention.

9. Equality in pay structure, beat distribution and exposure opportunities.

10. Insurance on the par of male journalists.

11. 10 per cent quota for in working women hostels

12. Welfare schemes and free healthcare for retired senior female journalists.

13. Provision of easy house and car loans for women journalists.

WJA Mission

Strive for equitable representation and better professional work environment for women in media, through advocacy, networking and resources, to promote gender inclusive journalism.

WJA Vision

Gender sensitive journalism empowers women to influence the gender transformation of society.

Main Activities

As a new forum, the activities of WJA remained limited during the last year. Main focus was to gather maximum support and recognition for the forum.

  1. National training of trainers was organized in collaboration with Aurat Foundation and Women Learning Partnership in which the Association was formally launched.
  2. Whats App group of WJA created which includes 170 women journalists from across the country interact and communicate with each other.
  3. Facebook page was created where issues related to women journalists were raised and their activities were highlighted. The page also shares job and capacity building opportunities. Currently, it has 1.2k members. The page can be reached at https://www.facebook.com/Women-Journalists-Association-of-Pakistan-106801441486092/
  4. WJA official website is in the making. Freedom Network has consented to assist WJA on this.
  5. A protest organized for the group of women journalists who lost their jobs in Jinnah newspaper and were not given their pays pending for six months. As a result, the newspaper management called them for negotiations and released their pending dues.
  6. Capacity building workshop on reporting child abuse reporting was organized in collaboration with Group Development Pakistan on October 30, 2021.

Team Members

Fauzia Kalsoom Rana

Founder WJAP, Conveyer
Fauzia Kalsoom Rana is a senior Broadcast media journalist and works with Dawn Tv and Radio Pakistan as an Anchor in news and Current Affairs Chanel Islamabad.

Myra Imran

Advisor
Myra Imran is a senior print media journalist and works with The News. She is Vice President of National Press Club and was Vice President for Rawalpindi Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) for 2020 and 2021.

Najia Ashar

Advisor
Najia Ashar is a broadcast journalist and media development professional with more than 20 years of experience in Pakistan’s mainstream media.

Nadia Mirza

Advisor
Working with Dawn Tv as an Anchorperson. She is a Vlogger as well. Former female anchor of AAJ TV later she joined CNBC Pakistan TV channel.

Objectives

To advance Journalistic practice and professional expertise of Women Journalists:

To develop a professional response to women journalists’ issues using the following assessments: