Mona Zia - Radio Jockey
A radio jockey who has been in the business for more than 20 years now, Mona Zia was the first one in the country to host an FM radio show in English. “Doing live shows when there were no mobile phones and handling people who could say whatever they want was the challenge I took. I decided that I was not going to do recorded programmes but would do live shows,” reminisces Mona.
The RJ has made a name for herself over her tenure, during which she managed to win several awards and many other achievements. “I think my biggest achievement is my Basant show. People not only from Pakistan but from different parts of the world came to Lahore to celebrate the festival. I even received a letter from someone in Sweden and who said that she wished she had a daughter like me after she heard the show. I keep that letter with me as it is very special,” she enthuses.
She believes in equality and that women can do anything they put their mind to. “Women should trust their talent and know that they can make a change.”
“I always wanted to become a journalist but my mother was against me joining the media industry. I was teaching at Aitcheson College when my friend suggested me to audition for a job and the rest is history. Now, here I am completing seven years in this field,” says Ayesha Jahanzeb, a TV anchor. She is the first female presenter on a prime time comedy show. “Being on the forefront of a comedy show was a gigantic challenge for me, perhaps, because most of our jokes are of sexist nature,” she says. “I have managed to survive in the media industry for the past six years keeping my reputation intact. Holding my ground and being moralistic are bigger than any accomplishment for me,” she adds.
Started as a Deputy Editor and Fashion Coordinator for a fashion magazine back in 2003, Fariha Rashid, Editor and CEO, has now made a name for herself being the owner of her own print publication ‘Ink’ and a PR firm ‘Pitch Media Inc.’ as well. “In 2007 I completed my Master’s degree in Mass Communication from Kinnaird College, Lahore. In 2008 I began my own print publication which was an entertainment magazine,” she tells.
“Launching a fashion magazine and a PR agency on my own was the challenge I took up.
I was able to initiate and successfully run a venture I want.”
Being someone who has been in the industry for a long time and having run her own business, Fariha feels that women should be given due credit. “I suggest equal pay, equal opportunities, equal performance based promotions and gender balance. I also suggest day-care centres for working mothers and paid maternity leaves for all women,” she emphasises.
Founder of surhkiyan.pk, Amina Hassan, feature writer, started her career as a sub-editor in 2015. She covered multiple genres from politics to lifestyle. She then worked as freelance writer for some time before joining late Asma Jahangir as her Media Officer. “Surkhiyan was a big challenge as in this digital world people are more aware and they constantly want to know. So coming up with a news platform where voices of masses can be channelised was a bit daunting but we made it,” she states.
She is of the opinion that work place should be a safe space for women. “Workplace harassment, trivialised comments and gender disparity should be done away with if you really want to make the media job market more conducive for women.”
Maheen Aziz is a Karachi based writer whose areas of interest are art, culture and entertainment. Starting her career as a journalist, she worked in the editorial department of The News International and then joined a contemporary art magazine, Art Now Pakistan. ”I have been working with an English language media outlet of repute. I do lifestyle segment as the editor,” she says.
She holds the position of Media Coordinator at the International Watercolor Society and has written many articles in local English publications.
Broadcast journalist, Alvina Sajid started her journey from a newspaper in 2015. She later switched to TV where she came face to face with undue discrimination. “I did not back down despite the hurdles.
I got an opening after a producer resigned and I had six months to prove my worth in a high-ranking TV channel,” she expresses. She is now successfully working as a coordinator and writer in Creative Department of a very prestigious TV channel.
Saneela Jawad is a lifestyle journalist who has been part of the industry for 6-7 years. “My journey in this profession has been a bittersweet one. From trying to network with people to setting boundaries, it’s been an eye-opener on so many different levels. For a new comer, getting by-lines published was a big thing. I have landed a chance to interview some of big names in the Pakistani entertainment industry,” she tells.
“Being a newcomer in the industry, the most challenging thing for me was to understand two-faced people around me, dealing with people smartly and of course trying to make my way into the industry without any ‘waasta’ – a term used to define undue reference in the Middle East,” she highlights.
She believes in creating a safe space for women, where they not only feel confident about working but don’t have to worry about being harassed “Better pay scales should be provided to women,” she asserts.
“After struggling for a long time as a reporter, I got the chance to become News Anchor in an English language TV channel,” says Hira Mustafa, a news correspondent on a renowned TV channel. “To get my talent recognised in the media industry was the most gigantic challenge I overtook. I was awarded a certificate for appreciation from the Embassy of Azerbaijan for playing my role in building stronger ties with the help of media between Azerbaijan and Pakistan,” she elucidates.
A young and booming entrant in the field, Hira keeps strong views about the struggles of women. “Media market is extremely fluid and there are so many challenges that women has to face time to time. There should be no workplace harassment,” she stresses.
Tackling and covering issues of transgender people and having worked on treatable transgender is what sets apart Dr Rabia Noor, Broadcast journalist and Academician. “My career in journalism started 17 years ago. I covered many political movements. I covered taboo issues on which I received the ‘Jamal Khashoggi’ Award,” she informs.
Having worked on a broad spectrum and being a senior journalist, she believes that the struggles faced by females in the field are far more different and challenging. “Female journalists should not be worn by media organisations as their face. Women journalists should not be confined to typical roles or to print media only. They should go for investigative reporting in electronic media,” she emphasises.
“I decided I want to be a writer very early in my life. So when people read my articles and blogs, they tell me not to stop writing. That is when I know I have made it,” says Sana Talat Gilani, a freelance Journalist.
She is known for writing in different genres as well as in different mediums such as short stories and podcasts. “Apart from writing for media, I do research and make documentaries on gender themes,” she shares.
She takes plagiarism very seriously and being a part of a media channel, it isn’t something that should be overlooked. “Plagiarism is the biggest challenge. You have to be 100 percent original writing news that are being reported by multiple channels simultaneously. Even misspelling a name can cause you embarrassment,” she stresses.
The media has become a more conductive place for women over time, but there are many other issues which go overlooked in this space. “Employee and boss relationship should not be allowed when you are working in the same company. I have seen a lot of that happen. That really compromises fairness and justice for other employees. That one employee who is in relationship gets more benefits than others. I speak through first-hand experience,” she divulges.
Farheen Chaudhry is an established Pakistani screenwriter for the last 30 years. She has received national and international fame due to her work. Her TV serial ‘Paani Pe Naam’ got her a nomination as well. “As a woman, moving with morality and keeping up principals was a tough task. I never bowed down in the face of adversity. Every milestone I crossed is like baby and I value every task, big or small,” she recounts.
She has won over 25 awards for her literary and cultural contributions.
Dr Hassan Shehzad teaches mediatisation of gender at IIUI. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org