#WomenInFront: "A lot would be different and easier in unions if there were more women members"

Sabina Inderjit is the General Secretary of the Indian Journalist Union and senior vice president of the IFJ.

SABINA INDERJIT

How would you describe the situation of women in media in your own country? What are the challenges they face reaching top level positions?

In India, women journalists have made significant strides, but it varies given the nation’s diversity and a pre-dominantly patriarchal society. To a large extent the glass ceiling has been broken in cosmopolitan cities, in English press and TV journalism. But the same cannot be said for the regional and vernacular media, where fewer women would opt for the profession. Sadly, the women in media are shying away from unions! Challenges: changing mindsets, having to work far harder, balancing two fronts --home and work, getting due recognition.

As a woman who reached a leadership position, have you faced any obstacle because of your gender? If yes, which ones?

Not really. I am of the firm belief that it depends on women to make their mark and not blame it on the system. Initially getting that ‘acceptance’ and acknowledgment of your work from workers and male colleagues in Unions, be it plant or State or national level, is challenging. Once that is crossed and confidence gained then there is nothing which can stop you being part of the top leadership. At the same time, I must add a lot would be different and easier in unions if there were more women members, instead of them shying away and being content within their network. Change will come when you fight from within.

What are the consequences of the lack of women in managing positions in media?

In media, women colleagues would tend to get short changed on promotions, better and safe work place environment, facilities; gender equality and women-related issues wouldn’t get sharp focus these deserve; organisations per se would lose out by not tapping the full potential of their women work force. Insofar as Unions are concerned, the biggest consequence is that the male-dominated unions wouldn’t take up women-related issues with the same fervour as other issues; big gap in the male-female membership of unions.

How can we solve this situation? Considering your personal experience, what would you suggest to reach gender equality in media? 

Sensitizing managements and Editors in media on the one hand and in unions getting women journalists to enroll in unions, which would then be compelled to fight against the under currents of discrimination; at the same time women would need to be assertive, aggressive and innovative to take on gender-related issues.

What could be the role of men journalists and media leaders in this process? 

To work as a team; respecting and encouraging their women colleagues.

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