The Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) has announced the support for a media development programme, which aims at mainstreaming gender in the Pakistani media industry as well as works towards creating a more balanced reporting on gender issues in Pakistan.
The programme was launched at a ceremony held at Fatima Jinnah Women University, where Danish Ambassador to Pakistan Uffe Wolffhechel was present along with FJWU Vice Chancellor Dr. Samina Qadir, leading faculty members of FJWU, large groups of female students pursuing careers in media and members from UKS Research, a local NGO.
The two-year project in collaboration with UKS Research aims to sensitise the Pakistani media on gender issues, promote media as a career for women in Pakistan and thereby improve and balance gender-based news.
Speaking at the event, the Danish ambassador said that according to the International Women’s Media Foundation, more than 73% of top management jobs in newsrooms around the world are occupied by men, who hold nearly two-thirds of the reporting jobs. “This is a global scenario, however with the massive growth of media in Pakistan, there is a huge opportunity for women to take active part in this development”, said Wolffhechel.
The ambassador also expressed that although the women in Pakistan were strongly contributing to the economy and opening up more doors of economic participation, there was a need to highlight their important role in the media as well. There are some very good female journalists in Pakistan today, who have through their journalistic expertise advocated for gender-based issues and some of the changes, which we have seen in the society today, is partly due to their struggle and “voice in media”.
The ambassador stated that although the interest for pursuing academic degrees in media was extremely high among female students, less than 50% of them join the industry afterwards. Wollfhechel stated that some of the reasons might be that the industry was still developing and was seen as a male-dominated industry with very few opportunities for women to join in and make a difference. “We would very much like to support more mainstreaming of gender in media and the new angles and diversifying approach they bring with them”, said the ambassador.
Dr. Samina Qadir stated that media being the 4th pillar of democracy has a strong role to play in the socio-economic development of the country as well as in shaping the society. She expressed great enthusiasm about the joint project between DANIDA and UKS Research, which was based on a strategic and participatory partnership and was confident that the project would support in increasing the participation of women in media and thereby build up a progressive and balanced society.
Tasneem Ahmar, director of the UKS Research, shared that the media was an important ally in creating gender equality in Pakistan. She said that the media could improve the gender issues by giving more supportive coverage to women issues and by looking at media content from a gender lens.
The Government of Denmark is contributing $28 million for democratic development, regional stability, human rights and gender equality in Pakistan. The programme is of two years and the first phase of a long-term development cooperation between Pakistan and Denmark.