Sony Pixel Power calrec Sony

Why female journalists in Pakistan don t like coffee

08/12/2022

Sabin Agha is a Pakistan-based documentary filmmaker, multimedia journalist and a blogger. She has been teaching women journalists at Tribal News Network (TNN) in Peshawar about how to blog and challenge societal norms. Thomson Media has been working with TNN to help empower women and give them a voice in local media.

Browsing through my Facebook page, I stumbled across a think piece about intelligent women which had been written by a man. Well, to be precise, it was more of a cautionary tale than a think piece. For him, intelligent women are shrewd and undesirable, hence they should not be loved.

As I read it, I thanked my lucky stars for my intelligence, which would help keep misogynists like him at bay. Sadly, though, that luck has not been replicated in my working life. I can't say I've felt lucky as a female' journalist. I write female' in inverted comas because have you ever heard people talk of a male' journalist? What about a female' girlfriend, female' mother or a female' sister? The battle cries of the female journalist are unique and countless. I even have my own exclusive battle cry as a part of my social media bio, which is: dodged bullets - dodging misogyny is a work in progress.

My male colleagues enjoy intimate meetings with their sources over a cup of coffee, irrespective of the time of day or night. However, when I want to meet sources many wrongly believe I am asking them on a date. In South Asia almost all sources are male, and as a female journalist I generally meet three types. I'm not saying that all sources are like this, but I'd like to share my own particular experiences.

Type one: the harmless type (somewhat), who is happy to share information whilst keeping his fingers crossed that it will lead to a potential coffee date with me.

Type two: the stalker type, who after sharing information will stalk me both physically and virtually via social media. I'll also receive drunken texts at the weekend asking me to meet up for a cup of coffee.

Type three: the detective type who has a distinct strategy. They want to find out before the meeting if I am coming alone or with a small army of people. Based on my response, they then devise a plan which involves, yes you've guessed it, a cup of coffee.

I don't like coffee anymore!

In this context, coffee' represents to me a mindset that objectifies women, irrespective of their professional standing. Sadly, in my experience, it's a mindset that's prevalent from the top down.

Let's take one recent, widely-reported example about comments made by the former premier Imran Khan when he was asked during a press conference about a prominent female journalist being harassed during rallies by his PTI party workers. According to a number of news outlets, including The Friday Times, Khan said she was bound to be harassed' if she invaded male-dominated places'. He went on to say he would issue strict directions against harassing journalists to his party workers in this regard and we will wait to see what that produces.

Female journalists don't just face physical threats. Social media is a new battleground, where your enemies are trolls armed with multiple fake accounts. The aim of the virtual attacks is ultimately the same: to stifle the message and remove these women from online spaces. According to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Women journalists in Pakistan are facing increasing levels of online harassment, including trolling, cyber-bullying, intimidation and doxing'. Asma Shirazi a well-known journalist, and at the time of writing the only female journalists covering parliamentary affairs in Pakistan, told the IFJ she faces a constant barrage of online attacks. ...they bring you to a point where it seems like a personal war. The space to do good and free journalism shrinks; journalists find it hard to work as they face more and more obstacles that limit their work.

When Tribal News Network (TNN) asked me to mentor a fellowship on blogging for women journalists, I felt really excited. As a battle-hardened journalist, I was keen to encourage, inspire and train these young women who come from a traditionally conservative setup, with unique techniques to challenge the status quo. I wanted them to attack misogyny head-on through the power of their blogs.

For me, learning is a lifelong and two-way process. Our journey to learn from each other began with a heart-to-heart discussion which translated into eight inspiring personal stories. This happened on our first day together. I then set them a series of challenges to change how they view themselves and their role as journalists. The challenges were as follows:

Society compels you to stop thinking: I want you to think critically.

Society stifles your questions: I listen to your questions and offer answers.

Society says it has a monopoly over your rights: You have a monopoly over your own rights which you are born with. Rights are usurped or accepted.

Society fills you with hate and scorn for women: I urge you to think differently.

Society tells you to shut up: I urge you to raise your voice as loud as you can.

Raising up voices can shake the very foundations of injustice. That's precisely what Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yusufzai did with her blogs for her BBC Diary from the Swat Valley, about life under the Pakistani Taliban's tenure. As she said in her acceptance speech: The terrorists tried to stop us and attacked me and my friends...but neither their ideas nor their bullets could win. We survived. And since that day, our voices have grown louder and louder. I tell my story, not because it is unique, but because it is not. It is the story of many girls.

Related content

Valley Voices - Enhancing womens political participation

Learn about a
LINK: http://www.thomsonfoundation.org/latest/why-female-journalists-in-paki...
See more stories from thompsonfoundation

More from Thomson

23/01/2023

Connect 6: Thomson Foundation launches mentor programme

Take six of the brightest young journalists and connect them to six of the best in the industry and you have the recipe for Connect 6', a new, world-class ...

10/01/2023

Unique new course on the art of writing news analysis

You're a journalist and news breaks that Pele, arguably the greatest footballer the world has ever known, has died. A colleague in your newsroom is assigned...

14/12/2022

A mobile masterclass for South African award winners

Two former winners of the Vodacom Young Journalist of the Year award in South Africa have finally been treated to their prize of an all-expenses paid trip to Lo...

08/12/2022

Why female journalists in Pakistan don t like coffee

Sabin Agha is a Pakistan-based documentary filmmaker, multimedia journalist and a blogger. She has been teaching women journalists at Tribal News Network (TNN)...

29/11/2022

Yashraj Sharma, Young Journalist Award 2022 Winner

Yashraj Sharma is the interim editor of the online news portal of The Kashmir Walla. He is the winner of the Thomson Foundation's Young Journalist Award 202...

25/11/2022

Yashraj Sharma, Young Journalist Award 2022 Finalist

Yashraj Sharma is the interim editor of the online news portal of The Kashmir Walla. He is a finalist in Thomson Foundation's Young Journalist Award 2022. ...

24/11/2022

Jyoti Yadav, Young Journalist Award 2022 Finalist

Jyoti Yadav is a journalist from New Delhi, working for India's fastest growing news website The Print. She is a finalist in Thomson Foundation's Young ...

23/11/2022

Carlos Ral Kestler, Young Journalist Award 2022 Finalist

Carlos Ra l Kestler is a 23-year-old journalist from Guatemala. He is a finalist in Thomson Foundation's Young Journalist Award 2022. Every time a tyre t...

21/11/2022

Empowered - a year on from winning the Young Journalist Award

One year ago, I woke up and was surprised to find out the great news that I was selected as the winner of Thomson Foundations Young Journalist Award 2021. This ...

07/11/2022

How to write news stories better

Ewen Macaskill introduces the second in his series of news writing courses for the Thomson Foundation - Advanced Writing: The art of storytelling Storytelling...

04/11/2022

New safety course for Ukrainian journalists

During a time of war, it's essential that journalists are prepared for any eventuality, however unlikely. With that in mind, Thomson Foundation has respon...

20/10/2022

Revealing the 2022 Young Journalist Award finalists

It has been tough three weeks for the panel of judges at the UK Foreign Press Association (FPA) who had the unenviable task of selecting three finalists for the...

19/10/2022

Environmental journalism courses now available in Arabic

Three landmark environmental training courses devised by the Thomson Foundation have been translated into Arabic as part of a major push to guide and inform loc...

28/09/2022

Young Journalist Award shortlist revealed

A remarkable number of entries arrived from all over the world for this years Young Journalist Award - Cameroon to Colombia, Ukraine to Uganda and Egypt to Ecua...

12/09/2022

Why Pakistan needs more women leaders

This article is written by Hudaibia Iftikhar, a blogger working in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province of Pakistan. Despite being highly educated, she holds a ...

23/08/2022

Western Balkans footprints: Innovation in media training makes an impact

Running a media organisation in the Western Balkans (WB) is far from easy. A region beset by instability, corruption with challenges to media freedom which prov...

08/08/2022

WhatsApp misinformation course goes viral

A digital learning course on mis and disinformation delivered via the messaging platform WhatsApp has gone viral in Sudan. The first seven days after publicat...

28/07/2022

Why the environment crisis doesn t make news in Serbia

Dina or evi is a journalist with the Centre for Investigative Journalism of Serbia (CINS). She has won a number of national and international awards for her w...

01/07/2022

Fresh perspectives: Young Journalist Award 2022

Thomson Foundation is celebrating 60 years of promoting excellence in journalism and to mark the occasion, we're offering six rising stars the chance to con...

24/06/2022

Finding Africa s new voice

Hello, can you hear me? The zoom screen springs to life and the responses quickly follow. Yes, we can. Good morning . The greetings come from Kenya, Nigeri...

20/06/2022

A new chapter in a migration story

The crisis in Ukraine has again focused world attention on the plight of refugees and mass migration. It has also challenged journalists to report on the issue ...

10/05/2022

Changing the way news and stories about Africa are told

The moment you see your byline next to a story is a magical moment for any journalist. It brings with it a sense of relief, pride and hope that you'll get n...

06/05/2022

International success for Montenegrin mobile journalist

Success in our training programmes is measured in many ways but one of the most rewarding is reading or watching powerful stories produced by young journalists ...

25/04/2022

Shifting the focus: Sudan on the edge of change

A pioneering band of creatives in Sudan are promoting social change through photography. The Thomson Media training for digital media entrepreneurs formed part ...

31/03/2022

Telegram course: Reacting to a chemical attack

Chemical and biological weapons may be banned but that has not stopped them being used in recent conflicts and for journalists reporting on the war in Ukraine k...

25/01/2022

A vote of confidence: Empowering women politicians in Gagauzia

The look of politics in Gagauzia, the small autonomous territory in southern Moldova, is decidedly male. Just two of the 35 members of local parliament are wome...

13/01/2022

The Bettina Fund: Transforming women's careers

Eleven women who participated in the inaugural Bettina Fund - Women in Media Leadership programme say it will transform their careers as they have gained confid...

18/12/2021

Investigating Moldova: Journalists pick up two awards

Stories on ecology and corruption, developed with Thomson Media support, are among the best investigations of the year. By Dima Stoianov, media support expert ...

17/12/2021

Boosting media portrayals of minorities in the Western Balkans

Media in minority languages are relatively well developed, but one segment is significantly neglected in the six countries of the Western Balkans - Albania, Bos...

14/12/2021

The definitive guide to podcasting has arrived

Award-winning podcasters and journalists from the UK, India, Kenya, Australia and South Africa have joined forces to create what's believed to be the first ...

08/12/2021

Podcasts: Why I love audio

The 7th of January 1991 was a big day for me. It was the day I started working as a radio journalist. As someone who writes for a living, I'm supposed to a...

30/11/2021

Persistence pays off for the first ever Malaysian Young Journalist winner

PROFILE: Young Journalist Award 2021 winner It was Kai Hui Wong's persistence in her investigations which led her to reveal abuses of power that convin...

30/11/2021

Doing the groundwork: Monika Mondal wins our environmental prize

PROFILE: Young Journalist Award 2021 (environment) winner It's hard to believe that Monika Mondal only started her journalism career last year at the hei...

17/11/2021

Who are the Young Journalist Award 2021 finalists?

Three journalists - from India, and for the first time, Colombia and Malaysia - are the finalists for the 2021 Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award, in par...

06/11/2021

We can change our migration narrative - election time is a good time to do it

By Eileen Truax Eileen is a journalist specialising in migration working with Thomson Media on Moving Voices - a project looking at cross border issues affectin...

02/11/2021

All fired up: The journalists addressing the climate emergency with words and actions

As world leaders gather for COP26, it is a pertinent time to showcase the work o...

20/10/2021

When diversity in newsrooms and newsleadership is not enough

In the latest in a series of personal reflections on womens role in the media, Luba Kassova, author of The Missing Perspectives of Women in News reflects on why...

16/10/2021

Meet the new generation of journalists making a mark

It's one of those points in the annual media calendar that early-career journalists await on the edge of their seats - and the moment has arrived. We can ...

06/10/2021

Women in media: Confronting the confidence gap

A confidence gap is a constant theme when discussing the lack of women in leadership positions in media. Why do women feel that they dont merit their success mo...

20/09/2021

Circular economy: Bringing the intellectually ambitious concept to life

Chances are, most things that currently surround you have been produced following the principles of the linear economy. From the clothes that you wear to the ph...

13/09/2021

Why we're all environmental journalists now

Journalists have a unique role to play in changing the narrative around the worlds environmental breakdown and becoming an essential part of the solution. Hear ...

08/09/2021

The next generation of leaders in Kenya's media

Twelve women aiming to become future leaders and entrepreneurs in Kenya's media. They were chosen from more than 500 who applied to join the inaugural progr...

23/08/2021

Encounters with a Sudanese artist pushing for a brighter future

Profile: Reem Al Jeally, Sudan A matriarchal figure is painted on a concrete wall on Jamhuriya Avenue, next to the University of Khartoum. Her face is not depic...

17/08/2021

Truth always wins - spotlight on former Young Journalist winner, Martin Camacho

Applications are open for the Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award, one of the highlights of the UK's Foreign Press Association Awards. Closes Septembe...

30/07/2021

Lessons of a lifetime help to deliver Thomson Foundation's mission

As he retires as Thomson Foundation chief executive - after a decade at the helm - Nigel Baker reflects on his previous 35-year career in journalism and lessons...

29/07/2021

News writing: The art of storytelling

Journalism is competitive. It can be a hard occupation to get into and it is just as hard to succeed in it. Thomson Foundations new online course News writing: ...

22/07/2021

Covering the escalation of police brutality in Kenya

On the 13th March, Kenya announced its first coronavirus case. The government announced measures to contain the spread. However, some of the measures proved dea...

15/07/2021

An environmental twist on this year's Young Journalist Award

We are excited to announce the return of the prestigious Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award where young journalists, their work and their voices are at t...

30/06/2021

The Bettina Fund: Empowering women in media

Women remain underrepresented in leadership roles in media organisations despite a higher proportion of female students graduating from university journalism co...

18/06/2021

Reporting on refugees: Belonging and unbelonging

Ahead of World Refugee Day, a day dedicated to refugees, their plight and their rights, we spotlight the work of Jordan-based filmmaker Jumana Saadeh and Kashmi...