National Media Fellowship Showcases Significant Contributions to Responsible Reporting on Gender-Based Violence and Child Marriage.

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National Media Fellowship Showcases Significant Contributions to Responsible Reporting on Gender-Based Violence and Child Marriage.

The National Media Fellowship’s second cohort (2023-24) has concluded successfully, with 39 fellows producing a total of 165 print, digital, television, and radio stories, along with two standalone documentaries.The Cohort comprises of one year training and mentoring period.These stories by fellows of NMF-2 highlighted crucial issues such as economic and health challenges, rising violence against women, and the struggles of transgender and marginalized communities.

In her welcome address, *Chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW), Nilofar Bakhtiar*, expressed her heartfelt gratitude to partners UNFPA and CEJ-IBA for their unwavering support in launching the National Media Fellowship on Women’s Rights. She praised the fellows, stating, “I am immensely proud of you all fellows who have produced 165 impactful stories and two documentaries, shedding light on crucial issues of gender-based violence and child marriage. Their diverse backgrounds, representing all regions of Pakistan, have enriched our initiative. Looking ahead, I encourage all journalists to continue championing women’s rights and addressing gender-based violence and child marriage in their reporting. NCSW is committed to supporting your efforts and will soon be holding national conferences on health, climate change, law reforms, and education. Together, we can drive social change and ensure a better future for all women in Pakistan.”

*Deputy Chairman Senate, Syedaal Khan Nasar*, commended the efforts of NCSW in advancing women’s rights. “All of these media fellows have done an outstanding job,” said Syedaal Nasar. “The National Media Fellowship has been crucial in training journalists to report on sensitive issues with professionalism and ethics. As Deputy Chairman Senate, I pledge my support to strengthen laws and mechanisms that protect women’s rights and ensure the passage of the Child Marriage Restraint Act Bill in the National Assembly and Senate.”

*UNFPA’s Country Representative in Pakistan, Luay Shabaneh*, emphasized the commitment to advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment through strategic partnerships. “By aligning efforts with the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 5, UNFPA’s interventions are evidence-based and targeted,” said Shabaneh. “This fellowship has empowered journalists to play a vital role in advocating for women’s rights through their reporting.”

The stories produced by the fellows covered a range of critical topics, including:

• Women’s inheritance rights and their deprivation

• The practice of “Ghugh” in KP, where random men can claim a woman without her consent

• Challenges faced by transgender individuals when a community member dies without anyone to conduct the funeral prayer

A key focus of this fellowship has been the gender-based violence (GBV) faced by the transgender community in Pakistan. Transgender individuals face extreme marginalization and violence, which is often underreported and inadequately addressed. The fellowship’s stories have highlighted these injustices, bringing much-needed attention to the plight of transgender people and advocating for their rights and safety.

Our cross-provincial analysis reveals disturbing perceptions about domestic violence. Between 25% of women in Punjab and 59% of women in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa believe that a husband beating his wife is justified. Among those who never reported domestic violence, 24% believed the violence was not serious, 15% were embarrassed to report it, 12% did not want to bring shame to their family, 9% feared further violence, and 8% did not report due to fear of their marriage ending By sharing stories of gender-based violence and child marriage, the media has raised awareness about their prevalence and impact, humanized statistics, encouraged empathy and understanding, inspired survivors to speak out, held perpetrators accountable, and influenced public opinion and policy.

Participants included reporters, copy editors, multimedia journalists, district correspondents, op-ed writers, and current affairs show hosts. The fellowship has created a network of dedicated journalists committed to solutions journalism, mobile journalism, and digital editing.

Awards and Recognition:

Prizes were awarded by Deputy Chairman Senate Syedaal Khan Nasar and Chairperson NCSW Nilofar Bakhtiar to the following journalists:

• Urdu Print Media:

o Shirin Karim

o Sameer Ajmal

o Shazad Naveed

• English Print Media:

o Wajiha Haider

o Bakhtawar Ahmed

o Asim Khan

• Electronic Media:

o Najia Mir

o Akhtar Shaheen Rind

o Saqib Abro

• Digital Media:

o Laiba Zainab

o Arzoo Khan

o Wagma Feroz

Certificates were distributed to all participants of the training sessions.

The day was moderated by renowned TV anchor and program host Tauseeq Haider. For the insightful sessions on child marriage and gender-based violence panels and questions and answers sessions were moderated by TV anchor and senior journalist Fahad Hussain and senior journalist, columnist and writer Wusat Ullah Khan.