Nanu Maiya Khadka

Nepali media made significant stride following 1990 People’s movement, which was further augmented after the second people’s movement of 2006. With this, the issues of women, backward and marginalized community witnessed unprecedented attention. Of course, the media’s role to this remained mostly positive.

Media,as the major source of information to the public, is responsible to create debate on any pertinent issue like gender equality and women empowerment. Despite vibrant slogans and rights movements, women representation in political parties, State mechanism, and private sector is comparatively low in Nepal.

At such, why not a study on women’s representation in media be done to bring forth data that helps analyse this pertinent issue. In this in mind, Freedom Forum began studying the major print one and half year back. It has been conducting monitoring since January 2017 on main news contents from the major nine national dailies namely, Kantipur, Gorkhapatra, Nagarik, Annapurna Post, Naya Patrika, The Kathmandu Post, The Rising Nepal, The Himalayan Times and Republica.

A recently published report by FF on it states that 1 among approximately 4 males is female writer/ columnist on the Op-Ed pages of the national dailies while 1 among every 10 male bylines is female on the main news of the dailies. Similarly, among 1,970 news sources quoted in 1,060 news monitored from January to March 2017 only 12.69% are female.

Earlier, at an interface held during dissemination of the monitoring reports, Director at Department of Information Ms. Suman Bajracharya informed that among 5,312 journalists provided accreditation, only 11.16% are females. She also recommended media to make a policy for at least 33% mandatory recruitment of female journalists in their media as done in public services.

The reports published every three months show gradual improvement in the statistics for women’s presence in media contents. However, their presence in contents is yet not as visible as their overall actual presence in media. Reports again conclude that one of the daily having less than 3 female bylines in three months in the initial period of monitoring has raised up to 7 female byline. Also remarkable is that percentage of women quoted as news sources on the monitored national dailies show increase by approximately 3% from the last year.

Additionally, one report quotes an editor saying, “Only after discussing with FF on the reports we realized women’s presence in our media. Now, we are keen on increasing female work space in our media house.” This signifies the editorial level realization is also important to ponder on the gender balance in their media as well as contents.

On the other hand, female journalists have argued that they were ready to work during odd hours if the organizations ensured their safety and security issues.