“Now onwards, I read Freedom Forum report thoroughly, hold editorial and staff meetings on how women presence could be increased. I believe my paper will also encourage reporters to present women in positive way in the news. I’m inspired by this discussion.”

It was the observation made by Krishna Malla, Editor of the Butwal daily published from Butwal city of Nepal, while speaking after the FF presentation on women’s presence in provincial media at a programme on May 27.

Similarly, Radha Phulara, reporter of the Hill Times daily published from remote Dadeldhura district of the far west province, shared, “We have very good atmosphere for women. Women reporters compete with each other for writing news. This program has further encouraged us to produce more women bylines and women news source to make the media inclusive.”

FF organized the interaction among editors and journalists representing the major three dailies from each province- Gandaki Province, Province 5, Karnali Province and Far West Province in Dang city and shared the information about the objective of the program and project and garnered their views on it.

They were made aware that the project was implemented to monitor the presence of women in province dailies- in news byline, news source and the presentation of stories on women. They were told that it had aimed at making the media inclusive and gender balanced. Even the result and impact of the FF monitoring report in the national level media were shared before the editors.

Gender Monitoring Officer Nanu Maiya Khadka made PowerPoint presentation on the representation of women on the three dailies from each four provinces. According to the report, news contents monitored from total 21 dailies of all seven provinces for a year 2018 showed 11% women in news byline and 14% as news sources. Among the dailies, Hill Times from Far-west Province was found containing the highest number of women in news byline.

The report further stated that province dailies were found to have maximum social news stories on their front pages in contrast to maximum political stories from national dailies. Maximum number of news stories with female byline and sources were related to social and legal issues according to the report.

Moreover, Administration and Finance Officer, Aruna Adhikari, shared at the program that FF had launched RTI Nepal App, which the media persons could use for making the stories more investigative, exposing corruption and irregularities entrenched in the public agencies and society.

She also informed about legal support FF was going to provide to the victim journalists and their families as per the need after verification from the authorized bodies about their profession.

Editor of Hill Times daily, Chhatra Saud, shared that there was increasing self-censorship in media for five to six years, resulting in low number of female bylines. Reporters could not be mentioned in byline on sensitive news, he added.

Bhawana Joshi, Publisher and Editor from Sundaranchal daily, published from Achham district said it was really difficult for women to carry on journalism in mofussil. Lack of physical facilities was another discouraging factor as she said. Few number of women experts accounts to few number of female bylines, she argued.

Seconding to Saud’s statement, Surkhet based Hamro Akhabar daily’s reporter Dipak Jung Shahi said safety was still a major challenge for female journalists to work and continue this profession.

Similarly, editor of the Malika Post daily published from Kalikot district of Karnali Province, Khagendra Bhattarai, reasoned journalists’ affiliation to multiple work places for not giving byline to their news.

Reporter of Dhamaka daily published from Dailekh district of Karnali Province informed that geographic difficulty was the major reason of making reporting costly. It obviously deters women from reporting, he stressed.

Managing Editor at Naya Yougbodh published from Province 5, Laxmi Acharya, claimed that while men are quoted as expert, women are most often quoted as victim in the news.

“The fact is that female participation is low in media, and media owners should also be gender friendly to increase their participation”, argued Basundhara Gautam, Editor of Radio Swargadwari FM Dang, adding, “BBC media has however mandated to quote at least one female source in their news.”

Moreover, Publisher of Goraksha daily from Dang Sulochana Gautam argued that low financial support and remuneration to women was another cause of minimal presence of women in media.

Admitting the absence of female journalists in Adarsha Samaj daily published from Gandaki Province, Editor Krishna Prasad Bastola committed to providing byline and op-ed space for journalists from anywhere now onwards. He also confirmed that providing bylines to the journalists make them more responsible about their contents.

Editor Prakash Chandra Bhattarai from Tanahun-based Lokwani daily accepted the study report stating that giving byline to the news is important as it is also related to standardization of newspapers. But it is difficult to retain women in media due to soci0-cultural problems, he added.

Concluding the program, Secretary at Freedom Forum, Ram Maya Lamichhane stressed the empowerment of women and mainstreaming those in media for ensuring inclusive media. Stating that such interface was fruitful to address existing disparity in media, she also called upon journalists to break socio-economic barriers, change their attitude towards women and utilize opportunity to bring women in forefront and make newsroom gender friendly.

The program witnessed participation of total 22 participants with 10 females.