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Media persons awarded for Excellence in Labour Journalism

Islamabad, March 17, 2015 (PPI-OT): Four journalists from print and electronic media from across Pakistan won awards for excellence in reporting on issues relating to labour and gender during the second media awards organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO) on March 16, 2015. The awards for excellence in labour journalism recognizes professional reporting of outstanding merit that contributes in an exceptional way to the public understanding of labour, employment and gender issues in the world of work.

The purpose of the awards is to acknowledge media professionals who demonstrate a passionate commitment to reporting that makes a difference in the lives of people around the world for the promotion of “Decent Work”.

The Chief Guest at the ceremony was Ms. Sherry Rehman, former Minister of Information and currently President of The Jinnah Institute. Also present at the event were Ms. Heather Cruden, Canadian High Commissioner to Pakistan and Mr. Francesco d’Ovidio, Country Director Pakistan, International Labour Organization.

Gender and Labour Reporter of the Year award was won by Shahzad Irfan of The News on Sunday. This award was given on the basis of the portfolio of reporting during the period of a year. Ms. Iram Noor of the You Magazine won the award for the Best Female Gender and Labour Reporter of the year, also awarded for excellence in reporting for her work printed during the last year.

In the print media category Mr Aoun Sahi of The News on Sunday won the award for the best story. His article ‘Work until Tehminas Die’ focuses on the plight of domestic workers, lack of legal safeguards for them and efforts by domestic workers and human rights activists to have their labour rights recognized by the state. In the electronic media category Mohammad Kamran Butt of Geo won the first prize for her short documentary “Aisay Waisay Log”-the insignificant people. This documentary also focuses on the issues of domestic workers and their efforts at organizing themselves to have their rights recognized.

Some of the people about whom these stories had been written were also present at the event. Speaking about a story on workplace harassment, Asma Shaheen, a trainee from Pakistan Workers’ Federation leadership development programme, explained how she had used her skills and training to train more than 500 women and men in different schools and hospitals in Haripur and had managed to get several organisations to improve implementation of the law against workplace harassment.

Several stories on domestic workers were featured. The Vice President of the first trade union for domestic workers registered in Punjab late last year, was also present at the event. She explained how difficult it had been to mobilise women especially, but now there were more than 500 members. “The Union is now part of the consultations held by the government on developing a policy for domestic workers, so we are sure we will eventually get the recognition domestic workers deserve.”

Ms Cruden, the Canadian High Commissioner to Pakistan reaffirmed her country’s commitment to promoting gender equality in Pakistan “to improve the gender equality and to unlock the power and potential of women.” She talked about the importance of a free and strong media and the power it had to communicate and lead change. “We would not have heard these inspirational stories of women today if you hadn’t reported them”.

After presenting the awards Ms. Sherry Rehman appreciated the journalists’ efforts to show that gender sensitive reporting wasn’t something to do because a project requires it or because someone asked them to, but because it is the right thing to do. She also appreciated the women behind the journalists’ stories saying that “when you empower women you create circles of empowerment. And those circles are growing”.

Thanking everyone for their participation and the Canadian government for their continuing support to women’s economic empowerment in Pakistan, Mr Francesco d’Ovidio, Country Director ILO Pakistan said that good, gendered labour reporting can help raise awareness about the issues of the 60 million workers in Pakistan about whom we hear very little.

Though women’s labour force participation is very low at only 23% they work in conditions of vulnerability and need the media’s spotlight to address their issues and highlight their successes. “Media is the shaper of the society, it can vulgarize it, brutalize it or help lift it onto a higher level.” he said, stressing the important role of the media.

The gender responsive journalism competition and awards were organized by the ILO Project on Promoting Gender Equality for Decent Employment (GE4DE), funded by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) that aims to improving women’s participation in the world of work. “Changing attitudes is a significant part of the efforts to ensure decent work conditions for women workers in Pakistan and media plays an important part in this regard.

The ILO project has trained hundreds of journalists to improve portrayal of women in media and to educate all stakeholders about empowerment of women in the world of work in Pakistan,” said Ms. Frida Khan, the National Project Coordinator for GE4DE during the awards ceremony.

The media training builds on a national declaration signed by more than 150 senior media personnel in 2012, committing to promoting gender responsive reporting through training for journalists. The project has been able to train 800 journalists including women and men from both print and electronic media from 50 districts of Pakistan through 34 training programmes to orient them on the themes of gender equality and decent employment.

The training sought to equip reporters with professional techniques and resources to improve coverage and portrayal of working women in media. The project also oriented 320 students at five leading universities across Pakistan on the issue of decent work for women.

For more information, contact:
Ms. Ishrat Rizvi
National Information Officer
United Nations Information Centre (UNIC)
Tel: +92-51-8355720
Cell: +92-300-8553790
Email: ishrat.rizvi@unic.org

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