Australia supports workshops on gender-sensitive media reporting



ISLAMABAD – The Australian High Commission is organising online workshops for media professionals during the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women.

The workshops aim to raise awareness of violence against women by encouraging gender-sensitive reporting.

Speaking at the inaugural workshop today, Australia’s Deputy High Commissioner to Pakistan Joanne Frederiksen highlighted that gender equality leads to greater productivity and growth. Promoting equality and the rights of women and girls is central to Australia’s development, economic and bilateral cooperation with Pakistan.

“Gender-based violence is a shared challenge. There has been an alarming increase in violence against women during the lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19. The role of media is important in challenging traditional social and cultural norms and attitudes that condone violence against women,” Ms Frederiksen added.

Renowned Australian journalist and advocate for gender equity, Virginia Haussegger is joining top Pakistani journalists Amber Shamsi, Marvi Memon, Mehmal Sarfraz and legal expert Sara Malkhani in the workshops to share experiences about the transformative role media can play in preventing violence against women and girls.

Ms Haussegger said, ‘I applaud those who embrace media education around violence and congratulate those Pakistani journalists who aim to improve media reporting.”

“Given the increasingly high rates of violence against women it is vital that we all learn to separate the myths from reality. Journalists must learn to distinguish perpetrator accountability from a victim’s actions…It is only through a better understanding of the root causes of violence and gender inequality that we can build a deeper understanding of the role every citizen must play in preventing violence against women and girls,” Ms Haussegger added.

The trainer Amber Shamsi shared, “Whether it is through perpetuating stereotypes or victim-blaming through images, language and perspective of stories – media can often indirectly or directly legitimise violence against women. Sensitising media practitioners on the need to understand how to handle stories of gender-based violence, and the context of that violence, is a long and continuous process. But given some of the minor victories in Pakistan over the last few years, it is worth the effort.”