The Coalition for Women in Journalism organized a round table that brought together journalists and stakeholders from the media industry.

The session was aligned with the global #HearMeToo campaign that addresses the issues women face around the world.

Stakeholders and journalists came together at Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Islamabad to talk about challenges and opportunities in the context of equal assignments for women journalists.

Core Member of CFWIJ Pakistan Chapter Tenzila Mazhar moderated the event and spoke about the disparity in terms of how some beats are viewed.

“There are some issues that are very sensitive and bold and because they are centered around women. Men cannot do them justice so women cover them. Now because they are assigned to women they have been labelled easy or weak, which I feel is unfair,” she said.

Another CFWIJ member and panelist at the event, Maira Imran echoed the sentiment. "Men think that beats such as politics or crime give them a lot of power and they don’t want to vacate space for women when it comes to these beats. In reality, these themes are no more important than much of what women are covering," she said.

Maira pointed towards the need for a realignment of how different beats are perceived. “We need to stop looking at these things with a patriarchal lens. Women are doing some incredible work, and we must see their beats for what they are: powerful,” she asserted. 

Core Member of CFWIJ Pakistan Chapter Ayesha Tanzeem said that at times editors will assign certain stories to men because they are deemed better capable of handling a story.

Ayesha, who is also the VOA Bureau Chief for Afghanistan and Pakistan, offered a solution, “What women need to do is develop and acquire the same kind of exposure and "street smarts" that their male counterparts have,” she said. 

Ayesha’s comments tie in with CFWIJ’s larger goal of ensuring that women journalists from diverse backgrounds have the skills needed to operate on an equal footing with men. Often when women reach the middle of their career they are bombarded with all kinds of stress inducing issues, including trauma and distress. Women, when equipped with the tools to tackle such elements, are capable of taking any beat head on.

Mohammad Kamran Khan, a #HeForShe supporter for the CFWIJ also participated on the panel. He was vocal about the many barriers that women journalists have had to break in the past, and pointed out to discriminations he had witnessed as a male colleague.

“When we speak about equal opportunity we must also talk about harassment, discrimination and exploitation.” These issues he pointed out were not spoken about traditionally in an environment where women risk being compromised if they are vocal about the difficulties.

With #MeToo though, Kamran says it is changing. At least some women have “found a voice,” he said.

He spoke about the value that women journalists bring to the table in an industry where diversity is of utmost importance. He emphasized the need of a more diverse and gender equal workforce in the industry.

The session resulted in a robust exchange between men and women journalists on the challenges that must be addressed going forward to ensure that a greater number of women have the freedom to cover the stories that matter to them.