Female journos facing discrimination, says FNJ Vice-chair Bindu

Kathmandu, December 10

A female ex-journalist, on condition of anonymity, shared her experience as a journalist, “I worked as a journalist for thirteen years at an FM radio station and a television show. But when I needed maternal leave, the media house I was working in neither granted me paid leave, nor guaranteed that I would have my job back later. I felt like all those years I had worked in this field was wasted.”

Organisations like the Federation of Nepali Journalists may talk about policy changes and ‘big picture’ issues, but they haven’t yet addressed discrimination faced by female journalists in media houses.

Despite having the first female president, a female speaker, and a female chief justice, the Nepali workplace remains discriminatory towards women. Nepali media houses have disproportionately fewer women than men, and the women at the workforce have to work harder to prove their worth.

Vice-Chairperson of the Federation of Nepali Journalists Anita Bindu said, “The FNJ is working hard to ensure that the rights of all journalists, male and female, are upheld. FNJ teams sometimes visit media houses to facilitate dialogues between working journalists and media houses and ensure that journalists feel safe and taken care of at their workplace.”

Bindu added that female journalists were paid less than their male-counterparts, and were also less likely to be promoted or given opportunities for advancement at their workplace. Bindu also added that female journalists were less likely to get FNJ memberships, and less likely to be sent to training programmes. To add to it, many women journalists face sexual harassment at workplace.

According to the FNJ’s records, female journalists make up only 16.5 per cent of working journalists in Nepal. Even of these, a greater proportion of female journalists work as news readers at radio stations, televisions, or at desk as opposed to working as field reporters. Female journalists often do not want to work as field reporters because of the lack of security.

The lack of female journalists on the field and elsewhere is troubling, because this can mean that the news presented by the media is greatly skewed. While the media is supposed to show an unbiased, transparent picture of society, its inherent flaws and biases against women will undoubtedly compromise the news it brings out.

The danger of this cannot be understated. Journalism — dubbed the ‘fourth Estate’ of the nation — bears the responsibility of informing the public the truth, and public actions are often determined by the news they hear and read. A skewed picture of the truth will compromise with the public’s understanding of society.