The Rural Media Network Pakistan (RMNP) has honoured Islamabad-based video journalist Saadia Sehar with its 2011 Sadiq Press Freedom Award.
The award, supported this year for the first time by The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), was made in recognition of Ms Sehar’s courage and dedication to the profession of journalism. From the 57 entries received, a seven-member jury made the unanimous decision to reward a journalist whose own personal triumph over adversity will, it is hoped, encourage more Pakistani women to take up the profession.“The recognition of Ms Sehar for this award is a symbol of the struggle for the right to information and a reminder to the international community about the tragic conditions Pakistan has lived through since the beginning of the ‘war on terror’,” said RMNP president, Ehsan Ahmed Sehar.
Ms Sehar is currently affiliated as a reporter and cameraperson with GEO TV in Islamabad and also works as a stringer for China’s Xinhua news agency. Following the brutal killing of her husband Azizullah Haidari, a correspondent and photographer for the Reuters news agency who was murdered along with three international colleagues by the Taliban in Afghanistan in November 2001, Ms Sehar left her teaching job to study for a Master’s degree in Mass Communication.
She went on to work
for Reuters and the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) as a staff writer, contributing stories to various local newspapers on women’s issues, extremism and terrorism before moving on to host and produce a popular current affairs programme at Vectone TV.
“Ms Sehar’s achievements set a new precedent for women in the Pakistani media,” commented the RMNP president. “There is an urgent need to raise the status of women working in urban-oriented media by appointing them
to decision-making positions, but it is equally vital that we rectify the glaring absence of female journalists among the thousands of district correspondents working in rural areas who give voice to over 65% of Pakistan’s total population.”
As well as a financial award, Ms Sehar will receive electronic journalism training organised by the UN Alliance, ICFJ and the Research Centre for Human Resources in Nepal, along with ICFJ training on freedom of expression in the digital age in Alexandria, Egypt. The award ceremony will take place on 25 September.
Pakistan has become one of the world’s deadliest places for journalists in recent years. The aim of The RMNP Sadiq Press Freedom Award is to recognise the courage and commitment of journalists and media organisations and to divert national and international attention towards the state of media freedom in Pakistan.
The RMNP Sadiq Press Freedom Award was founded in March 2005 to honour the late Nawab Sir Sadiq Muhmmad Khan Khamis Abbasi, the last ruler of Bahawalpur State, who introduced adult franchise to the inhabitants of former Bahawalpur province in 1954. Citizens in other parts of Pakistan were allowed to exercise this right only in 1970.
The Rural Media Network Pakistan (RMNP) was established in 2004 with the objective of assisting the development of independent rural media in Pakistan. The organisation conducts training programmes for both male and female journalists as well as freedom of expression seminars and campaigns to defend and promote the freedom of press.
For more information visit www.ruralmedianetworkpk.org
Source:World Association of News Publishers