Foreign Policy Blogs

Female Journalists Urged To Form Strong Network in Pakistan

This week I came across a really interesting article picked up by Pakistan’s mainstream media.  Since Pakistan’s media is free, but predominantly government-owned or overseen, articles are carefully reviewed for content by editors.  Pakistani editors heeding the accomplishments of women within the traditionally conservative society is an extremely progressive thing.  How well women do (personally and professionally) can help determine how well families will do as a whole.

This article “brilliantly illuminates the on-the-ground experiences of women who are driving change.”


Female Journalists Urged To Form Strong Network

Source: The News. Islamabad, Pakistan. In English.  22 Oct 2010.

Isobel Coleman, a senior fellow for the US Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, has urged female journalists to build a strong network that would not only act as a pressure group, but also press the stakeholders to address their demands.

During an interactive session with female journalists here on Tuesday, Coleman shared her experience of working in Middle East and South Asia, particularly with reference to working on the state of female journalists in these regions. She commended the efforts of female journalists, who were striving to bring about a change in society despite working under tough conditions. “I really appreciate Pakistani journalists, who despite many cultural and religious restrictions, are real agents of change and should be facilitated in every possible way,” she said.

She said in Pakistan the media is free, but not fair and reliable. Female journalists should also be given equal rights like their male colleagues and facilitated, as women journalists can report issues with more sensitivity and care and bring a change in society.

Coleman quoted various examples from Saudi Arabia, Iran and Afghanistan where the circumstances for female journalists were even tougher. “In Saudi Arabia, female journalists have to sit in a separate room, but they are provided with transport facility since they are not allowed to drive,” she said.

She, on the other hand, quoted the example of Afghanistan where journalism is one of the most dangerous professions and the rate of assassination of journalists was higher than any other part of the world.
Coleman believed that the way a female journalist could highlight social issues could not be highlighted by their male counterparts. “Due to the culture of the countries like Pakistan, women particularly feel more comfortable while sharing their miseries with a female journalist rather than a male journalist,” she said.
The area of expertise of Coleman includes democratisation, civil society and economic development, regional gender issues, educational reforms and micro-finance. She is the author and co-author of various publications, including ‘Paradise Beneath her Feet: How Women are Transforming the Middle East’, ‘Restoring the Balance: A Middle East Strategy for the next President’ and ‘Strategic Foreign Assistance: Civil Society in International Security’. In her books, Coleman has highlighted a number of Muslim men and women, who are among the most influential Islamic feminist thinkers, and brilliantly illuminates the on-the-ground experiences of women who are driving change.