Women in media in Nepal

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Sadhana Pradhan and Kamachha Devi, who jointly edited Nepali language monthly magazine in the early 1950s were perhaps the first women journalists in Nepal. The same year two other monthly magazines Prabha and Janabikash, edited by Priyambda and Ramadevi respectively were published.

Since these pioneer women journalists left their mark in Nepali media, women’s presence in media has gradually increased, especially after democracy was reinstated in 1990. Increasingly more women are working in radio and television, and now online media houses at both national and local levels. Yet, female presence is still miniscule when compared to the development of media and the involvement of men in the field. For instance, only 1613 members (16%) are females out of the 10077 general members of Nepal Journalist Federation. Of them, less than 50% of women are actively participating according to the recent report presented by the president of Nepal Journalists’ Federation.

Although no national-level survey has been conducted to chart a picture of women participation in media in Nepal, research done by some private organizations shows a grim scenario. One can hardly find female editors in national level newspapers except for some few local and district level newspapers. According to the Information Department, there are only 97 women are editors and the number of female editors in radio and television is small.

According to International Federation of Journalists survey (2015) on media and gender, only 24% of total journalists are women. Government institutions related to media also have lower representation of women, so it has become not easy for the formulation of women friendly governmental policies. For instance, most level employees in different media-related organizations like Press Council of Nepal or Radio Nepal, Gorkhapatra Sansthan or Nepal television of National News Council are men.

Various studies point that women do not pursue journalism as a long-term profession due to the various reasons, among which are discriminatory treatment of women in terms of hiring, promotion and payment, lack of women-friendly environment, and non-provision of pregnancy leave. Similarly, social discrimination, geographical difficulties, and unsupportive family have prevented women from achieving their full potential in the profession.

These have problematized the condition of women in the field and furthered the challenges. A journalist Babita Basnet writes in weekly magazine Ghatana ra Bichar (2016), “One problem for women journalists is that they are not adequately trained to hone their skills.

In spite of the challenges, media has increasingly become a professional choice for women. Opening of more media houses and different opportunities for women, gender inclusive concepts, importance of women journalists for reporting women’s issues, opportunities of different fellowship for women, and some images of some established female media personalities have shown and given some enthusiasm and confidence for women in the field.

Even in Nepal there are some institutions working for women and media which have been working to empower women.

(Bhandari is a joint secretary of Federation of Nepali Journalist, Kaski)

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