‘Women judged as women, men as individuals’

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New Delhi, May 31 (IANS) Women in any profession are are judged as women whereas men are judged as individuals, rued National Commission for Women chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam on Tuesday.

“In any profession, women are judged as women or as people belonging to a certain sex or gender whereas men are judged as individuals,” said Kumaramangalam during the session “Friends or foes? Media and women” that was held as a part of the seminar on best practices for media coverage of human rights for Indian journalists.

The seminar was organised by International Press Institute (IPI) in collaboration with the Indian Women’s Press Corps, the delegation of the European Union and the Finnish embassy.

Development journalist and researcher Aditi Kapoor who touched various issues related to women in the media field, revealed an old episode where she lost out on a promotion because of her pregnancy.

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“I lost out on my promotion and some junior was promoted instead because I had taken leave for my pregnancy. When asked for the reason, my senior replied: ‘You were busy having babies’… that was such a sexist statement to make,” she said.

As Outlook Hindi’s Editor-in-Chief Alok Mehta contended that women themselves oppose women and hamper their success and prosperity, Kapoor responded by saying: “The concept of women being women’s worst enemies exists because our standards are patriarchal.”

Dwelling on the value of women journalists being confined to their looks, mannerisms and age, she said: “These days, maximum number of television presenters are women but as soon as they turn 50, they lose the job whereas men beyond the age of 50 are allowed to be on television with their pot bellies.

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“The gender-based division of roles and responsibilities in terms of labour which is visible in the society is also there in the profession of journalism where beats are distributed according to the sex or gender of a person. A serious story is always assigned to a man.”

Rakhee Bakshee, director of Women’s feature service, said: “Either people are over-sympathetic that you are a female journalist or you are doubted and are given a certain beat.”

At this, Kari Huhta, diplomatic editor of Finland’s Helsingin Sanomat newspaper, said that in terms of beats, there has been a rapid increase of women covering sports and many other fields where they were not seen earlier but “board rooms have a bastion of gender based discrimination and that is where the power is”.

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Bakshee also complained that women’s talent was not valued.

“Women are out there working very hard and when they crack great stories, the credit is not given to their talent but they are told that it’s either because of some tricks or their charm that they could do something great,” she said.



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