Basic Journalism Skills Development Workshop for Women Dera Nawab Sahib,Bahawalpur District January 16 to 18,2012

Dera Nawab Sahib.January 18(2012)Three days long Basic Journalism Skill Development Training Workshop for Women held with the collaboration of Rural Media Network Pakistan & Unesco in the office of Sadiq Dost Academy at Dera Nawab Sahib town in Bahawalpur district. It was attended by fourteen female members of education department, girl’s students and house hold women while Ms Saman Khan acted as coordinator of this workshop. The basic aim of the training workshop was the capacity building of the rural women of this backward area. The resource persons , Professor Shehzad Ahmed Khan,Ms Najamun Nisa Bukhari and Ms Tahira Nasreen delivered lectures on artice writing and feature writing. Prominent educationist NajmunNisa Bukhari and Ms Saman Khan said that journalists and media play a very important role in raising gender awareness in today’s world. The media’s correct handling of gender issues has an enomorous effect in the way people understand and support gender equality. Usually, introducing gender related policies and laws is not enough to succeed in fighting women discrimination ,behaviours ,values, judgments, roles, stereotypes, prejudices and so on, must be changed. Media has the responsibility of influencing positively in this process ,there fore it is necessary to provide media professionals with the knowledge and skills to address gender issues in all communication process and to be gender sensitive while producing news and reporting objectively.
Resource persons in different sessions stated that gender discrimination is also a big problem of Pakistani society.. The female section of the population is often looked at with scorn and contempt. They are treated in a way as if they were a second degree creature. Many people in the area are oblivious to the fact that man and woman are two wheels of a vehicle. They do not concentrate on the development of this important part (53 percent in the country is female) of the nation, and as a result Pakistan lags behind within the community of nations. Successive governments in Pakistan have endeavored to raise the status of women by providing them better chances of education and other amenities of life. But despite the encouragement of women participation in different kind of activities, the problem still exists. For example, newspapers managements fail to encourage women reporters. The situation for women is especially bad in feudal dominated, rural areas of the country.
President RMNP Ehsan Ahmed Sehar said that the area where Rural Media Network is based: in Bahawalpur, to the north of Sindh province in South-Central Pakistan. The population of former Bahawalpur province consists of 12.5 million inhabitants. The area is mainly agricultural. Until 1954 it was an independent princely state with provincial status. Then it integrated with its giant neighbour, but this has not brought many fruits of development. It remains profoundly conservative. The conditions, under which rural journalists, male and female, work, are bad. They are usually unpaid and they avoid to report against feudal, who threaten them with kidnapping the female family members. So often journalists remain silent about what they have seen or heard. It has also been observed that in some places, rural ‘journalists’ are acting as puppets in the hands of feudal who pay them money to report in their advantage. About 48 percent of the women in Bahawalpur must go covered. They have few opportunities for work outside the teaching, where they earn very little. Often they experience sexual harassed by the management, but they don’t dare to complain because they fear losing their income. The same holds for girls being exploited within rich households, who are paid less than their male colleagues and are often physically harassed by the male owners. Women and young girls are sometimes forced into prostitution through fake weddings, but these human rights violations against women are rarely reported. The honor killings and acid attacks, reported from small towns and rural zones by civil society activists, are widespread. Due to the lack of communications, these incidents often go unreported, but sometimes female teachers and elected female councillors disclose these stories., he observed.
In the rural areas of Pakistan, where 65 percent of country inhabitants live, only one percent of all journalists are female, and often without much authority. In Bahawalpur not even a single female journalist is present. Rural societies in Pakistan are highly segregated and in the grip of religious powers. Men cannot report about women’s issues due to cultural barriers: they cannot approach and talk with women freely. So the almost none-existence of women journalists means that the media does not cover a large segment of rural life. Women’s’ perspective is missing in the news coverage, he added.
Ms Saman Khan stated that the Rural Media Network Pakistan is trying to fill this gap by organizing training programmes for rural women with the support of IPDC/UNESCO.More than 60 women contributors are being trained in article writing and feature writing There is an urgent need to expose human rights violations against women in local and national media. Therefor these female teachers and elected female councilors, who sometimes disclose stories, must be stimulated and enabled to report more frequently and to become a female journalists. They must remedy the glaring absence of women among district correspondents, get into the field and write about women’s issues, which in the past have been left uncovered by men. RMNP has also encouraged Pakistan first female video journalist Sadia Haideri by honoring her with US Dollars 1500 press freedom award in October 2011.RMNP has trained more than 200 women contributors during last six years out of while more than one dozens working with national print media organizations’ and my colleagues here in AhmedpurEast who are the old beneficiaries of RMNP trainings regularly monitoring violence incidents on rural women and reporting it to human rights and media organizations for further action,she disclosed.Participants Shehar Bano, Rabia Bibi,Muneeba Fatima,Madiha Manzoor,Huma Akhter,Kundan Bibi,Wardah Khan,Moeza Khan, Nayab Sherwani,Syeda Saima Shah,Sabahat Bibi,Zahida Perveen,Saira Bibi and Saima Farooq received RMNP-UNESCO training manuals and took part inpractical excercise followed by questions and answer session. At the end of the workshop certificates were distributed among participants.

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