As Pakistan gears up for its general election on July 25, there are renewed fears of an increased crackdown on freedom of the press, with rising reports of censorship of newspapers, TV channels, and social media.
But for female journalists, the challenges don’t stop here.
Threats of gender-based violence, harassment, negative societal attitudes, stifled career progress, and a significant gender pay gap are only some of the added challenges that test the resilience of Pakistan’s small but thriving community of female journalists.
Less than 5 percent of journalists in Pakistan are women, which raises serious questions about how the media can reflect and inform public opinion when the sector is so unrepresentative of the society it serves.
The organization I work for, International Alert, recently spoke to female journalists in the provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), to understand the challenges they face and hear their stories. The research, we hope, will help toward finding solutions to create a more inclusive media environment in Pakistan.
What these journalists told us sheds an interesting light on some of the key issues facing women in the media in Pakistan. Sexual harassment is one such issue.