Women journalists require more facilities: President

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New Delhi, Nov 16 (UNI) President Pratibha Devisingh Patil today posed several questions to the media establishments on the status of women journalists, the professional facilities provided to them and their negative projection in the media, advising the latter to adequately highlight their stories of courage and determination in adversity.

''No doubt, from a historic perspective, women journalists have clearly made great advances in the last two decades in India.

They are reporting from the battlefield, the stock market and the State Assemblies," said Ms Patil, inaugurating the National Press Day celebrations here.

While complimenting the PCI for choosing the "Media and Women" as the subject for year-long discussions, workshops, seminars and symposiums at the central and state levels, the President said many questions needed answers like, "What is the status of women journalists today? Do they get the enabling environment to do well in their work? What facilities such as creches and adequate environment and leave for raising their children do women journalists get? and what type of mid-service training do they receive?'' In her forceful address, Mrs Patil observed that in a competitive profession like journalism, women naturally have apsirations to rise on the ladder, just as their male colleagues.

These are some of the issues which can be looked at by the managements of media organizations." On the media coverage of the various happenings, she said the nation is going through an important phase of evolution. "A new India is emerging which is confident and its economic growth has caught the attention of the world.... therefore, the media's perspective should be constructive." Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma could not make it to the event for unavoidable reasons. Representing him was the Department Secretary, Sushma Singh, who noted that with increasing participation of women in both print and electronic media over the years, it is seen that women today have aquired eminence in the field and occupy high positions including those of editors and directors in leading media establishments." "In the year 1996, women's particpation in the Indian media was only 8 per cent. At present there are 12 per cent women journalists in the country," Ms Singh said.

In his 16-page key note address, PCI Chairman Justice Ray referred to the gender inequality, wage discrimation, crime against women, health scene and male-female ratio, women education as areas for immediate attention.

Justice Ray deplored that while it is true that media has brought to light, as never before, certain misdemeanours against women but in a very subtle manner and it also perpetuated the stereotype image of woman as a householder and an inconsequential entity in the traditional value system.

"Generally, women's problems never figure on the front page of a newspaper unless it is a gruesome murder or rape. Even on women's page, the newspapers do not usually address relevant issues and the reporting is all about beauty tips, recipes and fashion syndrome among others," the PCI Chairman added.

INS chief and PCI member H M Kama and Counsel secretary Vibha Bharadava also addressed the gathering. The celebrations were attended by eminent media experts, jurists and students of various institutes of journalism.

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