Combating gender biases, women journalists in different parts of Northeast India have broken stereotypes and glass ceilings. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, The Thumb Print speaks to women in media across the board on what it means to be a ‘woman’ in the profession.
MONALISA CHANGKIJA, Editor, Nagaland Page
What is difficult, what is easy, by definition? As a woman journalist, with the responsibility of shouldering “wife-dom” and motherhood, it cannot be easy however much I have had the privilege of a strong family and neighbourly support-system. If I were a male, perhaps I could have done better professionally because in any patriarchal society, the kind of support system a man gets, no woman can hope for the same. You see, the very fact that I am a woman in what is still largely perceived to be a male profession has made me vulnerable to all kinds of problems I faced and continue to face. Whatever a patriarchal society’s pretensions to modernity, the mindset that women’s world must centre around home and hearth persists and that makes it difficult for women in any profession.
No, it has not been easy for me as a woman journalist but at the same time the challenge lies in the difficulties. That’s what makes women what we are tough birds. And who gives a fig that I will never win a popularity contest? I’m here to do what I must, not to win popularity contests.
CHAYA MONI BHUYAN, Political Editor, News Live TV
It was difficult but through my hard work I made it easy. It is difficult to gain confidence that woman can do hard things. Gender discrimination does exist. But, we have to be strong enough to overcome it. Everytime we have to give ‘agnipariksha’. I have. I passed. I am ready to face challenges again. I know I will come out successfully. I think this should be the spirit of International Women’s Day.
SAMIM SULTANA AHMED, News Editor, Dainik Agradoot
Being a journalist in this fast paced world always thrills me like a newcomer. I feel being strong, confident, honest, decent and dedicated can make one move ahead. I must agree that to a journalist, good news is often not news at all as it is the demand of space. I greatly enjoyed working as a journalist for the last 16 years, because it gets you out of the house, and it gets you talking to people and you also witness the darker, murkier side of the politics and also the society. As a journalist, you’re essentially running to things that other people are running away from. Journalism is an ideal occupation if you enjoy a fast-paced environment with new challenges and opportunities daily. Challenges can be turned into opportunities.
TONGAM RINA, Associate Editor, Arunachal Times
Journey has been worthwhile though difficult.
KARISHMA HASNAT, Senior producer, News 18 Assam Northeast
It’s been a 12 years long journey – one of struggle, celebrations and disappointments. Journalism remains a male-dominated field, where women employees still need to make their voices heard. In a testosterone-filled newsroom, professionalism has been the key to survival and success.
INDRANI RAIMEDHI, Features Editor, The Assam Tribune
Never thought of myself as weak and in need of protection. The challenges were mainly cerebral. One has to be in the peak of one’s mental faculties. I had never tried to prove anything to anyone.
DURBA GHOSH, Senior Journalist, PTI
As a working woman, it has not been an easy journey having always walked a tightrope to balance the myriad responsibilities that most professional women have to fulfil. My journey as a journalist began more than 25 years ago when there were not too many women in the arena. We cannot claim to be pioneers but there were very few senior women journalists in most organisations when we joined the profession in the last decade of the previous century.
The scenario, however, has changed considerably since the turn of this century and now there are hordes of young women joining the profession. It is a undoubtedly a welcome trend but what remains a cause for worry is that many of these women journalists fail to cross the not so imagined but very much existing glass ceiling and either leave the profession to pursue interests in other fields or stagnate at a certain level. As a professional, I am journalist period! I am in a job and must perform duties that all journalists are expected to do, irrespective of my gender. It has always been a priority to ensure that the day’s news is not missed, deadlines are met and to sniff around for that exclusive special story which always gives a high to any journalist.
There have been hurdles along the way and it cannot be denied that misogyny has to be tackled at every step, particularly while dealing with sources in the process of collecting news. Sources usually take time to open up but ultimately the initial suspicion gives way to trust and a good story is always appreciated. In the final analysis, however, I feel that a woman journalist has always had to walk many extra miles i.e work a lot more hard to prove oneself and stay afloat as an able professional.
RJ MANDY, Radio Jockey and Senior Executive, Red FM, Guwahati
I consider myself fortunate because I belong to the Northeast of India. As I grew up, frankly I never ever understood that there was any difference between me and my brother because we were brought up as equals. So, did rest of my fellow friends.
Now over the year as I grew up and entered the world of Media in the region, I have realized we are warriors who have never learnt to give up in life. Women are bosses of their own life and like to rule that way. I don’t think there’s any such atmosphere here that makes you realize that you are women in particular and is not capable of completing any task. Women around me in the media in the region are powerhouses from whom I draw inspiration. I want to mention my own super hero my Mother (Deepika) and my grandmother (Nirupama) who left a great impact in my life and taught me that we are meant to dream and pursue our dream by ourself because we can. So, I guess it’s more of a people’s (Gender less) role in Media in Northeast rather than Women or Men.