On the occasion of International Women’s Day celebrated on March 8th every year, DCMF organized a seminar on the role of women in the media under the title ‘Women Make News’ in collaboration with UNESCO and Al Jazeera Media Network. UNESCO commemorates Intl Women’s Day every year with events within the scope of its initiative launched in 2015 and titled ‘Women Make News’.
The event was held at Al Jazeera Café in Katara and was attended by prominent female media figures as well as academic and cinematic personalities including Mustafa Suag, Acting Director General, Al Jazeera Media Network, Anna Paolini, UNESCO Representative to the GCC and Yemen, Dima Khatib, Managing DirectorAJ+, Reem Al Harmi, Columnist, Sarah Al Derham, Film-maker and Teaching Assistant at Qatar University, Latifa Al Darwish, Cartoonist, Asma Al Hamadi, Al Jazeera Presenter, Christina Paschyn, Northwestern University Professor and Amal Khalifa Haban, Sudanese journalist among others.
DCMF was represented by its Monitoring & Advocacy Manager, Hanan Al Yafei, who spoke about the centers efforts in supporting and advocating for female journalists in several different ways and aspects. She added that female journalists face challenges whether they are conducting their job in normal and safe working environments or in conflict zones; and that the center had previously submitted recommendations addressing these issues at several international conferences, most notably the ‘Global Forum on Media and Gender’ organized by UNESCO in cooperation with DCMF in Thailand 2013, and the ‘International dialogue on gender equality in the media’ organized by UNESCO in Geneva 2015.
Al Yafei also pointed out that the center supports female journalists as part of its Emergency Assistance program in various ways especially in conflict ridden areas such as Palestine, Sudan, Somalia, and other African countries.
After the seminar, the attendees were invited to take part in a hands-on workshop in the same location to learn how to present the news and how to film, in the setting of Al Jazeera Studio.
Dr. Mustafa Souag
Dr. Souag clarified that there is no gender discrimination of any sort practiced at Al Jazeera News Network and that both genders are treated equally and everyone is evaluated according to the quality of their work, their professionalism, and creativity. He shared his pride at watching female journalists deliver their work in a professional manner from the news rooms of Al Jazeera as well as during coverage from dangerous conflict areas around the world. He added that the network contributed a lot in order to promote the role of female journalists.
Paolini said that women have accomplished a lot around the world, particularly in the Arab region. She added that the role of intl organizations is to emphasize and solidify the principles of gender equality and help remove obstacles in the face of greater participation of women in society. Paolini commended female journalists for conveying news to the world especially from areas of conflict.
Dima Al Khatib
Al Khatib expressed her opinion that in the past female journalists were merely a pretty picture or image and they did not work behind the scenes. She added that Al Jazeera was the first to break this cycle and it allowed female journalists to prove their capabilities in all the phases of news production without exception. Al Khatib added that it was men who believed in her when she started her career in media and she was given the full opportunity to prove her journalistic skills and equate journalists of the opposite gender in all the challenges that face journalists in different work environments.
Reem Al Harami
Al Harmi shared her experience as a Qatari journalist and said that there is a shortage of Qatari women working in the media. She added that there is equal opportunity for all to prove their capabilities and talent in the media field; she also praised the supportive role played by Qatari families for anyone who wants to enter the challenging media field. She also pointed out that Qatari women are succeeding in the field of media and other fields day after day.
Sara Al Durham
Al Durham said that in today’s world women play an increasingly active role in society and that women are now prominently present in the media field in Qatar and the GCC region. She added that social media allows for the widespread participation of women in general discussions about various topics. She pointed out that we all share a societal responsibility to improve and enhance the image of women.
Al Darwish shared her view that drama works produced in Qatar and the GCC region have dealt with and highlighted the challenges that women face in their families and society as a whole. She went on to say that drama can play a pivotal role in changing the society’s stereo type image of women which has been a hurdle to the empowerment of women in these societies.
Asma Al Hammadi
Al Hammadi shared her experience as a TV presenter especially when she just started working in this field. She added that challenges remain a constant part of the job. She went on to say that she was able to prove herself and her capabilities through Al Jazeera and it gave her the opportunity to discuss various issues that are of importance to society.
Dr. Christina Paschyn
Dr. Paschyn shared information of field studies conducted by North Western University about the image and presence of women in Media. She clarified that the conclusion of these studies was that there is a big improvement in the stereotype image of women that has dominated societies and media in the past, adding that there is always room of more improvement. As for Qatari women precisely, Dr. Paschyn said that in order to fulfill the ambitious National Strategy of 2030, all components of society have to play a constructive role and that includes women without doubt.