Media must create space for women parliamentarians’ better performance and leadership

Islamabad: Women parliamentarians’ performance is better than male parliamentarians in terms of business, questioning and legislation, while negative portrayal of women in media is archaic, said prominent journalists and experts during a panel discussion held here today, adding that women’s stereotypes have been hindering the development and empowerment of women in our society.

Entitled “Portrayal of Women’s Leadership in Media”, the panel discussion was held on the concluding day of a three-day training workshop conducted on ‘Common Ground Media’ for 30 producers and presenters from 30 radio stations at district and provincial level, by Uks Research Centre in collaboration with Search for Common Ground-Pakistan (SFCG).

DG Radio Pakistan, Murtaza Solangi; Director Policy & Programs Jinnah Institute, Raza Rumi; PTV Special Correspondent, Fozia Shahid; SFCG-Pakistan Country Director, Ammara Durrani; and Executive Director Uks, Tasneem Ahmar participated in a lively discussion with participating journalists.

During discussion, Murtaza Solangi DG PBC said: “We live in a male dominant society; where women have been deliberately portrayed negatively, from Fatima Jinnah to Benazir Bhutto Shaheed, from Bushra Gohar to Sherry Rehman – this anti women behaviour continues. Instead of questioning women’s quota in National Assembly, we should encourage maximum participation of women in national politics. Women parliamentarians have made enormous contribution in national politics and they should be given due credit for it.”

Raza Rumi said that, “Media should not glorify negative elements; it should focus on positive segments of our society. There is strong need of media regulation and their implementation, while self-regulation of media is equally important. It is also responsibility of the government to end institutional monopoly in media.”

Fozia Shahid said, “The performance of women parliamentarians’ has improved as compared to their male counterparts during last five years but there is great need to change our behaviour towards women politicians.”

Ammara Durrani said, “A conscious and responsible use of language and appropriate portrayal of messages on Radio will provide listeners with greater accuracy about the leadership role of women and their contributions for Pakistan. We are all partners in doing that.

Tasneem Ahmar said that bringing a gender perspective and sensitivity to media content is a skill and requires a focused commitment: “There is a huge difference between messaging that you think will work and messaging that is effective. Remember: the buzzword is gender sensitivity.”

The Common Ground Media Workshop was held as part of SFCG-Pakistan’s national “Strengthening Women Parliamentarians for Effective Government” project that is working with the current and potential political and social women leaders of Pakistan, as well as providing guidelines to media for engaging with audiences on specific issues identified by elected women parliamentarians.

The training incorporated various techniques to sensitize and raise awareness amongst the participants on gender and engaged them on solutions-oriented interaction with their audiences via their media.

Male and female radio broadcasters from Radio Pakistan and private FM stations from 26 districts of all federating units of Pakistan, including Gilgit-Baltistan and FATA, participated in the training. Leading trainers and subject specialists provided thematic training and assisted building the capacity of the presenters on women and gender issues.

Uks Research Centre is a research, resource and publication centre dedicated to the cause of gender equality and women’s development, focuses on the women-media relationship.

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