15.07.2002 -

Training Workshop for Women Journalists Ended in Pakistan

26 women from Pakistan's District of Bahawalpur in Punjab participated recently in a journalism training workshop in the Government Girls High School in the city of Ahmed Pur Sharqia. The training course, which was organized from 27 to 29 June 2002 by the Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) and UNESCO, was financed with a contribution from UNESCO's International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC). Ehsan Ahmed Seha, PPF local Coordinator for the workshop, reports for WebWorld from Pakistan.

"Ahmed Pur Sharqia is the suburban town of Dera Nawab Sahib, the erstwhile capital of Bahawalpur State till its merger into Pakistan after independence from Britain in 1947. Dera Nawab Sahib is now a dead city, with its grandiose palaces and impressive fortresses, now lying vacant, decaying due to neglect. Ahmed Pur Sharqia, on the other hand is a lively bustling town of 30,000 people. All local government offices, courts and administrative institutions are located here."


As a necessity a women friendly location for the workshop was selected, which was the Lab Hall of the Government Girls High School. The headmistress of the School Parveen Fatima Siddiqui and deputy headmistress Zareena Rafiq provided their fullest cooperation for the arrangements, including catering and other needs of the participants. Before that formal permission for holding the workshop at the School premises was willingly given by Mushtaq Ahmed Siyal, District Education Officer (Secondary), Bahawalpur who also promised to attend the closing session but could not make it due to other engagements.


The workshop was attended by 26 participants consisting of teachers, doctors, professional women and educated housewives not only from Ahmed Pur Sharqia but also from neighbouring towns. Many requests for participation had to be turned down in order to keep the attendance to a manageable level.


The PPF media instructors team consisting of Fazal Qureshi, Chief Editor Pakistan Press International (PPI), and Samina Ishaque, Director, Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) flew to the nearby city of Bahawalpur from Karachi. From there it was a grueling one and half hour drive on bumpy roads to the city of Ahmed Pur Sharqia in sizzling 45 degree temperatures. There Mr. Ehsan Ahmed Sehar joined in to guide us to the venue of the workshop at the Girls School.

On the opening day, the PPF team was warmly welcomed by the Headmistress of the School, who also enrolled as a participant alongwith a few of her teachers. The three day workshop started on the morning of July 27 with recitation from the Holy Quran and a brief welcome speech by the headmistress. In her remarks she expressed her deep appreciation for the PPF and UNESCO workshop, which she said would impart highly useful writing skill to local educated women enabling them to project their viewpoint on national issues of their concern through the national media.


Director PPF Samina Ishaque in her opening remarks explained the goals of the programme. Fazal Qureshi in his brief speech said that women in Pakistan must come forward to express their view point on all important national issues.

The proceedings on Day one, Thursday July 27, began with registration of participants. After that there were lectures about definition of news, principles of news writing, the concept of Inverted Pyramid in news writing , the principles of 5 W's and one H. Large sheets were used as aids for display of the vital points of the subjects under discussion. Fazal Qureshi, and Samina Ishaque alternated in delivering lecturers while Ehsan Ahmed Sehar also joined in when needed. The session also included a practical exercise on news writing. The participants were dictated basic material and asked to write a news item with a proper news lead. The output of the participants was of reasonably good quality, which reflected their attention and understanding of the subjects.


On day two, July 28, lectures were given on principles of news ethics and values which make news more or less important for their display in newspapers. The participants went through a practical exercise highlighting these factors in news stories.


In the session on article and feature writing, the lecture covered -- how to select a subject, how to write a theme sentence to determine the parameters of the subject, and how to collect and sort out the material. The lecture emphasized the need for professional preparation of a neat and clean manuscript, the importance of photographs and how to market articles and features in the media. PPF also offered the participants a free professional advice service in case any of them wished to send their manuscripts for whetting before being passed on to the newspapers.

The final item of the programme was a practical exercise in which participants divided in five groups competed in selecting a subject, writing a headline, intro and the first ten lines of the article.


The third and final day on July 29 started with a lecture on law and the journalist, in which the principles of laws of libel and contempt of court and their possible defence were explained. This was followed by a lecture on importance of maintaining reference records on subjects of interest to the writer. The participants were then asked to fill in evaluation forms giving their assessment of the workshop.


There were three Chief Guests at the closing ceremony. These including President Chamber of Commerce and Industry Bahawalpur. Tahir Jamil, former Chairman Ahmed Pur Sharqia Municipal Committee Mian Ilyas Ayaz and Director Museum Bahawalpur Hafiz Hussain Ahmed Madani. They delivered brief speeches expressing their deep appreciation of the programme and suggesting that more such training workshops should be held in the area in future. Each of them took their turns to give away the certificates to the participants. A number of participants also made brief speeches praising the workshop for its importance in imparting them knowledge and skill about article writing."

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