Swat’s first woman journalist Shaista Hakim says her journalistic credentials were never accepted by the local journalist community due to her gender. In 2009 at the time of military action in Swat, she was a resident of Syeda Sharif hostel of Swat and was an Intermediate student.
Notably, Shaista has been a journalist for the last nine years, and she has been associated with Radio Pakistan, Tribal News Netweork (TNN) among other media groups.
As a matter of fact, less than 5% of the estimated 20,000 journalists in Pakistan are women, according to the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists. That makes it less than 1,000 women practicing journalism in the country in 2017. Many argue this number is too small and yet in 2002, when the airwaves in the country were opened up for private ownership – in the shape of independent television channels and radio stations – there were less than 2,000 journalists in total and the number of women in journalism estimated at less than 100. In the years hence there has been a manifold increase in their numbers.
The upside is that there are more women overseeing news operations for current affairs shows and reporting for TV channels, radio stations and newspapers than ever. The downside, however, is that there are not enough women editors and news editors in newspapers, news directors, chief reporters and bureau heads for TV channels that reflect even the hugely disproportionate numbers of practicing women journalists. There are reasons for this. The working conditions for journalists in general are far from ideal – Pakistan is one of the deadliest countries to practice journalism, as annual press freedom and safety indexes in recent years prove – but for women media practitioners, they can offer additional challenges such as harassment from colleagues to social and cultural constraints.