Sancharika Samuah (SAS) Nepal in partnership with UNESCO Kathmandu Office organized a three-day training in “Safety of Women Journalists” in Birgunj, Parsa District, with an objective of enhancing professional safety of women journalists so that they could continue in their profession.
In the inaugural session, Mr Shyam Banjara, President of Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ), Parsa welcoming the participants and guests said the training would provide guidance for women journalists to enhance their capacity as a successful journalist. He appealed to SAS to conduct similar training for male journalists as well. Ms Poonam Poudel, assistant trainer, said that she would share her experience and would learn from the training.
Mr Dhiraj Pratap Singh, Superintendent of Nepal Police, said that he was expecting to attend the training to understand in detail about the safety of women journalists. He also said that he had committed do homework along with the Chief District Officer (CDO) to draft a strategy for the safety of women journalists. Mr Shital Mahato, central committee member FNJ, Parsa, said that media houses had to be gender-friendly and suggested the entire journalists to follow the Code of Conduct.
Mr Shiv Gaunle, Lead Trainer, welcoming all the participants and guests said that journalists should have an in-depth and clear understanding of an issue. Many safety-related issues have emanated from improper understanding of issues not only in Nepal but in other parts of the world, he added. Mr Kailash Kumar Bajimaya, CDO, Parsa, said that journalists have to be sincere to their profession and district administration was always ready to help them for their safety.
Ms Nirmala Sharma, President of SAS, highlighted that following the Code of Conduct of journalists alone does not ensure the safety of women journalists. Therefore, the state would also have to ensure their safety, she emphasized.
On the first day, expectations from participants were collected and they shared their experiences, citing possible reasons for the insecurity of journalists in general and women journalists in particular.
Mr Shiva Gaunle facilitated the training on the first day that began with safety of journalists at national and international levels. Ms Sharma provoked the participants to share cases in which journalists were threatened, assaulted and even murdered and told them that in most of the cases journalists themselves had invited trouble because either of being unaware of the code of conduct or simply not abiding by them. Ms Poonam Paudel said that the most important thing was to have good knowledge about the issues to be a successful journalist.
The second day began with the recapitulation of the first day by Ms Sharma and Mr Gaunle discussed about the case of Dil Shova, who was being accused of sexual abuse and presented on journalist code of conduct, professionalism and safety of journalists, and educated the participants on various issues related to professional and physical safety of journalists.
Day third also commenced with the recapitulation of the second day. Ms Poudel discussed about the qualities of a successful journalist and shared experiences negotiating hurdles in conducting live TV shows or anchoring news.
Mr Raja Ram Gautam, desk editor of Kantipur Daily, said that reports always have to be investigative.
Mr Chandra Kishor Jha, Member of Press Council, suggested to i) study (anything on print), ii) to study society to understand them, have to know rights, laws, and iii) to study ourselves.
Participated in by 22 female journalists from print, radio and television from Parsa, Bara, Makawanpur, Rautahat and Dhanusha, the three-day training was covered by a large number of local and national dailies and weeklies besides the FM stations, television channels and online news agencies operating locally and nationally.
A half-day Interaction on Safety of Women Journalists was conducted following the completion of the journalists safety training on 25 May with an objective of making the stakeholders - the concerned government officials, representatives of political parties, civil society, journalists' organizations and promoters and journalists, and holding them accountable to creating a safe environment for journalists.
Shyam Banjara, President of FNJ, Parsa, welcomed all the participants and guests. He thanked SAS for organizing such training in Parsa district. He said that an increasing number of women have been entering journalism, but few are retained. He appealed women journalists for enhancing their capacity.
Ms Sharma said that women journalists were unsafe everywhere. She added that state should take responsibility for the security of women journalists.
Ms Manika Khatiwada, one of the participants in the training, said that the training was fruitful and she had learned many things such as code of conduct and issues related to privacy among others. She also said that women journalists are not inferior to men journalist.
Ms Madhuri Mahato, another participant, said that the training had enhanced her capacity and made a commitment to continue this profession.
Open floor discussion
Ms Bimmi Sharma, Correspondent of Himal Media, said that such training was also needed for male journalists.
Mr Pawan Tiwari, Editor of Lok Times Daily, said that journalists should have to understand the issues and society as well.
Mr KC Lamichhane, Station Manager, Narayani FM, commented on paper presented by Mr Shatrughan Nepal, former President of FNJ, Parsa. He also said that the development of the society is closely linked with the development of women journalists.
Mr Chandra Kishor Jha, Member of Press Council, said that the number of women journalist has been increasing in Birgunj and added that journalists would be safer if they followed the code of conduct.
SP Mr Dhiraj Pratap Singh, Nepal Police, suggested to journalists not to write any news without full investigation.
Mr Sheetal Mahato, central committee member of FNJ, Parsa, said that physical safety depends on the journalists themselves and professional safety is related with concerned media house.
Mr Shiva Gaunle, lead trainer, informed that we could file case against labor exploitation if the minimum wages were not provided to journalists according to Labor Act.
Mr Kailash Kumar Bajimaya, CDO, Parsa, said that capacity building for the journalists were necessary. He said that Nepalese society lacks proper human resource with professional journalism background. The administration can guarantee your safety, if you followed code of conduct, he added.
In order to complement its initiatives to mainstream women's issues in the media and to initiate fresh discourse on the contemporary issues affecting the lives of women in general and women journalists in particular, SAS organizes interactions frequently. Over the years, SAS has earned a reputation of raising the economic, social, cultural, political and civil rights violation issues and holding interactions among journalists, women's rights activists, government officials, civil society leaders, opinion formers and other stakeholders. It has been interacting with the wider stakeholders on issues like women's representation in the Constituent Assembly (CA), political participation in all spheres of social life and their faire representation in all levels of political parties and on issues like domestic violence, witch accusation, dowry-related violence and other violence against women. During the run-up to elections to the CA, SAS organized many interactions among the stakeholders on its own and in partnership with other like-minded organizations, for instance.
With an objective of informing, educating, and calling for an action on issues of press freedom, women's equal participation in state affairs, to end violence against women, to sensitize the general public on respecting the rights of people, to create public awareness gender equality and on other contemporary issues, SAS produces and broadcasts various jingles and public service announcements (PSAs) on different radio and television stations. While producing such jingles and PSAs, SAS pays attention to the target audience and broadcasts them in major languages of Nepal including Nepali. SAS often produces and broadcasts such informative audio-visuals in collaboration with other like-minded organizations, coalitions and social movements.
Training & Workshop
SAS has been carrying out various programs with an overarching goal of mainstreaming women's issues in the media and supportive activities with an objective of enhancing the capacity of women journalists in order to increase their participation in journalism and retain them in the profession. Right from its inception in 1996, SAS has been organizing various capacity-building programs for women journalists. Among them, Basic Journalism, Feature Writing and Investigative Reporting training and workshops are the major and regular activities of the organization. The journalists thus trained are given opportunity to contribute articles to its Feature Service in Nepali and English, SAS Radio and TV programs and to Sancharika Online.
The journalists trained by SAS have been producing feature stories, investigative reportage and other hard news and contributing to SAS-run media apart from other mainstream media both electronic and print they are affiliated with.
Sancharika Samuha, being a pioneer forum of women journalists and communicators, works to safeguard the rights of female journalists, journalists in particular and women in general. In order to ward off possible violation of rights and to draw the attention of the state to provide justice to victims in the aftermath of rights violation plus to call for an action regarding inclusion, equality and meaningful participation of women in different fields of social life, SAS issues press releases.
It also issues press releases to condemn attack on press freedom and safety of journalists besides informing concerned state and non-state actors on its activities targeted to the betterment of the promotion and protection of the rights of women journalists in particular and media people in general. The organization also issues press release on issues of national importance and women's equal participation in decision-making bodies of the state.
SAS produces documentaries to capture the reality of the lives of people mostly women whose basic rights are violated. It focuses on denial of the rights of women to acquire citizenship through matriarchy, domestic violence, gender-based violence, violence caused by harmful traditional practices such as dowry, deprivation of girl children from basic education, discrimination against girls and women in different fields of their social life. The organization produces and airs such documentaries with an objective of informing the general public on certain issues of rights violation and drawing the attention of the state to protect and promote their rights, thereby supporting to establish a gender-equal society. SAS has produced many documentaries on violence against women and has aired them through different television channels of Nepal.
SAS carries out studies on different issues mainly focusing on women journalists, press freedom, media monitoring, status of women journalists, violence against women, domestic violence, structural violence and gender discrimination. Traditional and cultural practices harmful to women are also another area of its advocacy. SAS advocates with and through the media primarily on the basis of the findings of the reports in order to change state policies and programs in favour of women.
The organization also prepares reports of collective campaigns carried out in different times depending on the urgency of issues and events. Likewise, SAS also prepares reports on media monitoring and documents and shares the findings of such studies. Reports prepared and shared by SAS have become very useful for policy-makers, implementers, students and scholars besides women's rights activists and apologists.
Since 4 November 2013, SAS has been producing television programme titled "Samakon" on Kantipur Television. The objective of the programme is to dig out the issues of gender-based violence, bring them to the notice of duty bearers, support survivors of such violence by providing them an opportunity to share the injustice, and create awareness among people in order to create a gender-friendly society.