Freedom Forum held an interface among female journalists working in Nepali media in Kathmandu on May 31, 2018.

During the program, Gender Monitoring Officer at Freedom Forum, Nanu Maiya Khadka Shared a monitoring report on ‘women’s representation on Nepali media’. “According to a study of nine national dailies in the recent three months (Jan-March 2018), out of 1,060 news stories, there are 5.2 percent female bylines; while 23.86 percent female opinion writers. The female source in news is 12.69″, she informed.

According to her, it is appreciative that the female sources have increased by 3 percent compared to previous monitoring period. In the major six online news portals, out of 359 news stories, 4.15 percent is female byline, while 28.45 percent male byline and 11.61 percent female sources, while 74.53 percent male sources in the news stories.

Report also reflected that political news dominates Nepali media- print, electronic and internet-based portals. Hence, it obviously pushes the social issues to the inner pages, that is to say, social issues are belittled.

On the program, Female journalists, mostly reporting on social beat argued that as social beat is hastily generalized as ‘feminine beat’, most of the females are reporting on it, resulting in lower visibility compared to male colleagues.

“Isn’t it high time we mainstreamed social issues- the issues of women and children- now? Nepal is now in relatively stable situation. So, we can focus on social issues,” said Rama Luitel, encouraging the fellow reporters, arguing that social news helps bring bigger change than the political news does.

When some female reporters complain that they are generally given social beats, she responded there is no point in belittling social beat reporting. Social beat is more important than others, she underscored.

Similarly, journalist Durga Karki said, “Male reporters should be instructed to do social beat, so that they are learn more on sensitivity of women and children.” According to her, perspective of male and female reporters on a same issue is different, so the presentation of the story may vary.

However, both of them agree that women’s presence in media should be increased to augment social issues. There are several issues relating to women’s problems that need immediate address, but still ignored by media.

Sub-editor at National News Agency and Gender Study in Masters’ Level, Pabitra Guragain observed, “Social issues are taken as feminine issues. Such patriarchal psychology of not assigning political beat to females can have link here.” She argued that women can also report political issues and work in odd hours, but work atmosphere must be favorable.

Talking about the visibility of women in media, most of the female journalists were univocal that women sensitivity is one of the important factors behind the time women stay in media. After marriage, chance of returning to media is very slim, they added.

In view of female’s short stay in media, reporter to Annapurna Media Network, Srijana Khadka said, “I’m working on a thesis on ‘Career of female journalists after marriage in Nepal’ to dig out more issues as how difficult the women journalists’ life is in media before and after marriage in Nepal.” She also said the news related to politics and government was dominating Nepali media.

Most of the female reporters find it difficult to continue journalism for long in Nepal. Workplace atmosphere, gender sensitivity and patriarchal mindset are major factors behind low visibility of women in media. Women hardly comprise 20 percent of the total number of journalists in Nepal.

Hence, the interface was held with an aim to bring forth voices of female journalists and to discuss on how FF could facilitate on increasing their visibility in their media.