In an era where mass information is available at our fingertips, technology has broken down several barriers of entry for journalists everywhere. Despite these advances, there is still an underrepresentation of women working in journalism worldwide, according to the International Women’s Media Foundation.
The High Commission of Canada to New Delhi was proud to work with the Women’s Future Service and the Indian Women’s Press Corps in creating media workshops that explored the challenges facing women in journalism.
Reporting By and On Women was the sixth edition of a series of media workshops organized to discuss the significance of media in the current global environment and to foster long-lasting network building in the Indian media and beyond.
The workshops addressed critical questions about the role of gender and media such as; does the Indian media have a gender bias in reporting, what are the challenges in reporting on women’s issue, and how can we explain gender issues from both a Canadian and South Asian perspective.
Journalists hailing from India, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka gathered in the day-long workshop with the interest of refining their understanding of these gender issues. Many were already familiar with publicizing gender issues, but participants also had the opportunity to receive the Canadian perspective on the issues.
"In Canada, we feel strongly that gender equality is not only a human rights issue, but an essential component of sustainable development, social justice, peace and security."
Nadir Patel, Canada’s High Commissioner to New Delhi.
The High Commission also invited Adrienne Batra, Editor-in-Chief of the Toronto Sun, as a guest speaker to the workshops. Batra weighed her opinions in a panel with various Indian editors and experts from prominent Indian newspapers and television channels.
"One of the challenges that we continually face in Canada is not dissimilar to the issues in India, but I think beyond gender parity… It is more about how we cover the story, not necessarily who is covering the story."
Adrienne Batra, Editor-in-Chief of the Toronto Sun
Nazira Babori, a journalist and coordinator of Afghan Journalists Safety Committee told the panel a darker side of journalism where explicit threats are a continuing reality.
"To be a woman is difficult in Afghanistan, especially in the media. We receive different kinds of threats by the Taliban, ISIS, but also locals who ask what your problem is, and why we are speaking opinions."
Nazira Babori, journalist and coordinator of Afghan Journalists Safety Committee
The diversity of the panel highlighted the varying degrees to which journalism is received by the public and the assorted challenges of each region. Despite the differences, all participants agreed that journalism is a powerful tool for women and gender equality must be pursued.
The success of this series of media workshops has led to its expansion to other Canadian Embassies in Central and South Asia, signalling a global interest on discourse of women in the media and their challenges.
Media workshops such as Reporting By and On Women provide wide opportunities for both locals and Canadian missions to cooperatively approach a global issue. Canada hopes to foster the momentum of the workshops and provide global leadership on the promotion of gender equality.