Uks-Research, Resource and Publication Centre on Women and Media

Address: House-10-B, Street 13, F-8/3, Islamabad, Pakistan
Telephone/Fax: (9251)2255348.
E-mail: Uks@comsats.net.pk
Contact person: Tasneem Ahmar (Ms), Director

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE

Uks (an Urdu word that means Reflection) is a Research, Resource and Publication Centre working on Women and Media. Primarily, a brain-child of its Director, Ms. Tasneem Ahmar, it was started in December 1997, in Islamabad, strongly supported by a group of like-minded women. This group that included journalists, human and women’s rights activists and academics felt that there was no such forum where concerns regarding media-women relationship could be raised and shared, thus Uks was formed. Since the start, Uks is deeply concerned about the present attitudes and values in the Pakistani society regarding women’s roles, and rights, and would like to change this to one of equal participation in all social, economic, and political processes and national and international development. It is also concerned at the reinforcement of negative or discriminatory attitudes through the media and working towards media sensitization..

Uks is a national organization. It has conducted media workshops in many cities of Pakistan. It plans to bring out a quarterly newsletter that would reach urban and rural population of the country. The annual desk diary reaches hundreds of media persons, human and women’s rights activists, international agencies and government organizations. The members of this group are committed to and actively involved in positive information-dissemination on women’s issues in which ever area they work

As Uks is a media-based research organization, there is no limit on how and how many people benefit from the kind of work that we are doing. Howsoever, its main focus is to impact the media policy makers and urge them to review policies that negate or damage women’s role in national development. It also aims to reach out to as many readers, viewers and listeners and try to promote awareness among women and men, of the need to question existing values that create gender inequality. The other goal is awareness-raising among our women to empower them in their fight against inequality and prepare them for effective participation in all areas of society and development.

It is the public opinion that Uks is trying to mould for a positive portrayal of women through the media. It welcomes suggestions and ideas from anyone who has been a part of any seminar or workshop organized by Uks to keep informed of the needs of public and be able to make positive changes in our policies and design. Since the day Uks was inaugurated, it has held many workshops, meetings and seminars. Public participation is welcome. This way, there is a good representation of people from a varied background. Uks does not have a formal membership, but many of the participants are involved now in our activities.

Uks is basically a women’s group with a number of women activists supporting us in our activities. Men are a part of Uks, primarily because it believes in equal opportunity for both sexes. But women outnumber men and are key decision-makers.

SOME SPECIFIC AIMS AND OBJECTIVES

Creating awareness among people, policy makers and other government agencies that women’s rights are human rights.

Gender Sensitization through the media, acting as a media watch group on portrayal, values and images of women in the mass media.

Creating awareness regarding women’s movement and the emerging issues.

Creating awareness against commercialisation of women in the media.

Advocating and promoting projection of positive images of women by the media.

Replacing old ideas with a more progressive outlook towards women.

Analysing and debating State policies and its impact on women.

Structure

Uks is a small organization. The office consists of four full-time workers: Ms. Ambareen Sehar, Documentation Officer, Mr. Shahzad Raj, Research Coordinator and Office Manager, Mr. Abdul Mujeeb, Office boy and myself (Tasneem Ahmar) as Director.

Director------ Office Manager ---------Documentation Officer--------Office Boy

The office pays monthly salaries to the three officers, where as the director does not draw any monthly salary. Besides these, there is a group of close friends and associates (volunteers) who are consulted for any major decision.

Activities and Programs

Since its inaugural meeting that was a panel discussion on “ Empowering Women Through Media” with Ms. Jane O’Reilly, founder member of Ms. Magazine(USA) as the chief guest, Uks has been actively involved in various activities. These include:

Maintaining a documentation centre on women issues. This is open for public and anybody working on any area of women’s status and situation in Pakistan can access our archives. This data is also then analysed for watching and gauging emerging media trends on how and what is being printed on women in Pakistan.

Designing/ organizing Media Sensitization workshops.

Designing/organizing Gender Sensitization workshops.

Designing/developing media resource books.

Awareness raising campaigns for women’s development.

Member core-group on setting up of a shelter-home for women who have been victims of violence.

Active involvement in efforts for maintaining peace in the region and advocacy against nuclear arms race.

Writing in newspapers and journals on issues that are on our priority agenda.

Bringing out a heavily researched annual desk diary.

Providing press clippings on a weekly/ monthly basis on topics as prescribed by the mission or agency itself.

As far as the press clipping services are concerned, these can be provided both on weekly or monthly basis as per requirement. Being a resource centre, Uks uses cut and paste method to preserve press clippings on all women's issues, crime, health, education, development etc and also on other human rights issues. On a daily basis as many as 15 national and local newspapers, and more than a dozen periodicals ,both Urdu and English, are scanned and marked for documentation and filing.

The service charges are discussed and decided on volume and frequency of work involved.

Designing/Organizing Workshops and Seminars and Providing Gender Training

Uks has the experience and expertise to develop and organize MEDIA MONITORING, ADVOCACY,MOBILIZATION & SENSITIZATION WORKSHOPS AND SEMINARS ON THE FOLLOWING ISSUES:

SPECIFIC AREAS OF CONCERN, INTEREST and COMMITTMENT

Women’s Health and Reproductive Rights (including HIV/AIDS, STD’s and Drug Abuse)

Violence against Women, including war crimes

Easy and equal access to education

Economic empowerment of women

Political participation (or lack ) of Women

Women and Conflict management

Women and Peace

Trafficking of women

Women with Disabilities

Women and Health issues with special focus on HIV/AIDS

Major women-related healthcare issues in Pakistan with focus on HIV/ AIDS can be identified as follows:

1. Restricted use of contraceptives - Approximately only 24 percent of Pakistani women use contraceptives. The gap between contraceptive use and the desire to space or limit births is one of the largest in the world - more than one third of Pakistani women wish to space the next birth or limit the family to its current size but are not using any contraceptives (World Bank Report by WB Health Specialist Anne Tinker).

2. Legal restrictions on abortions - As abortions are not legal women go for unsafe abortions causing 5 to l3 percent maternal deaths.

3. Priority in healthcare given to males - as in most other things, priority in healthcare is given to males at the cost of female healthcare. That is, out of whatever means are available to an average household, more will be spent on the males and far less, if any, on the females.

4. The unavailability/inaccessibility of information and treatment for the prevention and control of reproductive tract infections (including transmission of HIV).

5. Combating gender based violence which often results in short term/long term health problems for women.

6. The present day top-down physician dominated system needs to be changed to a client centered model which brings information and service to the women who need it.

7. The general poverty/dependence and subordinate position of women which is often responsible for their vulnerability to AIDS. For example, they cannot even ask their male partners to use protective condoms as women are not supposed to have any say in such matters.

Violence against women including war crimes

While discussing the issue of violence against women, stove-burning, honour killings, rape, sexual harassment, stand out as some of the more serious ones. Uks would also like to look into and analyse a much neglected area i.e. women as victims of violence in ethnic, sectarian clashes as well as in war.

Women's Political Participation and Growth

Low representation in decision-making bodies keeps women out of the arena of politics and decision-making. There is a need to study the barriers in the way of aspiring women politicians, behavior pattern of women voters and its impact on politics as well as their role and impact as a pressure group. With the newly announced devolution plan, local bodies elections and 33 percent representation for women, this is an significant area for research.

Women's Initiatives as Peace-Makers (Conflict Management)

Invisibility of women in security and international affairs keeps women away of this critical area. To promote better knowledge and understanding of the structural causes of conflict and suggest alternatives for non-violent interventions and peace initiatives, it is important to encourage women to come forward and help shift the balance to create a more people-oriented and gender-sensitive approach.

Women and Economic Status

Labour force participation; occupational classification; heavy concentration of women in unrecognized sector; discrimination against women; impact of technology on women; women's role in production at urban and rural levels.

Women and education

Low level of literacy, drop-outs and wastage, inequalities in general and technical education, gender bias in the content and curricula are some of the vital issues regarding women’s education in

Pakistan.

Trafficking in Women and Children

Trafficking in women and children is regarded as “perhaps the fastest growing industry and the most lucrative criminal activity in the world today.” In Pakistan, although its operations and impact are not so far reaching, it is a crucial area of concern.

Globalisation and its impact on Women

Women are largely being affected by the process of globalization. It is having a negative impact on women, and Pakistan is no exception.

Women with Disabilities

A one-time neglected area, women with disabilities has come up as an important issue. Groups are being formed to give these women an easy and equal access to employment and other avenues of growth. The help of media is essential in this regard to help these women fight discrimination.

THESE Print Media Monitoring, Advocacy, Mobilisation and Sensitization workshops aim to:

Analyse-quantitatively as well as qualitatively-- the impact of reporting as also the extent of coverage accorded to women on related issues.

Raise awareness and solicit recommendations that could effectively persuade journalists, reporters and editors for a better and positive understanding and coverage of women on related issues.

Educate the people so that it can elicit behavioral changes necessary to facilitate the process of development, specially of women.

Provide feed back to project designers without which they would be in the dark.

Raise public awareness of different positive attitude and motivation to elicit popular participation and involvement in women development programs.

Methodology Used:

Daily reading/scanning and marking of almost a dozen daily newspapers (see list).

Maintaining of a database of the press coverage through cut and paste method.

Monthly analysis of total press coverage of all aspects of the related issue.

Compiling of a monthly report based on that analysis.

Holding of quarterly advocacy and sensitization workshops for journalists.

Holding of a national workshop at the end of the year to present the annual report based on the outcomes and shortcomings of the project.

The research is divided into two parts:

Qualitative Analysis: The qualitative aspects analyse, critically, the format of coverage, source of information and placement of news items.

Quantitative Analysis: The various types of reports on women-related issues published in major national/local English and Urdu dailies, their format, source and placement are studied.

ELECTRONIC MEDIA:

GENDER-MEDIA WATCH AND AUDIENCE RESEARCH

SOUTH ASIAN/REGIONAL COMPARISON OF TELEVISION PLAYS

(PAKISTAN,INDIA,BANGLADESH,NEPAL,SRILANKA)

Uks has many plans for the future. Most of these plans have been with us since our formation but have not materialized due to non-availability of funds. These include:

Preserving our documentation through scanners

Bringing out a CD based on the history of women’s movement in Pakistan.

PROJECTS COMPLETED SO FAR

A research project with the British High Commission on “The Impact of Newspaper Language and Reporting on Women’s Status and Development (July-September, 1998).

A media workshop on “Sensitization of the Media on How to Report on HIV/AIDS”, with the Panos Institute, Kathmandu, November 2-3, 1998.

Publication of a resource book “AIDS” in Urdu for the media persons, supported by Panos Institute, Kathmandu, April 1999

A project with UNDCP (United Nations International Drug Control Programme) on ‘Women and Drug Abuse in Pakistan’ , December 1998-June 1999

5. A workshop with Freidrich Ebert Stiftung on “Portrayal of Women in the Media”, April 1999.

ON GOING PROJECTS

A one-year project with the Royal Netherlands Embassy on “Monitoring and Sensitization of the Print Media on Portrayal of Women in the Press”, September,2000 to August 2001.

Finalising of annual desk “Diary 2001”.