Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Women Journalists: Fighting the Good Fight

Journalism— a profession long reserved for men, where women were restricted by custom and law and faced significant discrimination within the profession but women gradually stepped into the arena of Journalism and started working as editors, reporters, sports analyst and journalists even before the 1890s.

A recently published book of SAGE Publications “Embattled Media” has a chapter dedicated to the Women Journalist where the authors have provided a snapshot of the challenges faced by women in media in the conduct of their profession and despite that how they emerged to be successful pioneers of their industry. It is a known fact that Sri Lanka gave the world its first female prime minister in 1960.

It is a lesser known detail that at least 15 years before Sirimavo Bandaranaike assumed this mantle Anne Abayasekara became the first ever female Sri Lankan staff journalist. She was only 17 years old when D.R. Wijewardene, Chairman and MD of Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd, or Lake House, interviewed her for a position. She faced many difficulties as it was wartime, and they had temporarily suspended the women’s pages because of newsprint rationing also at that time even the bosses could not envisage women taking on anything more than the men’s or children’s pages. Anne agreed to a clerical position on the premise that she could join the editorial staff when things returned to normal. In 1947, Lake House resumed the women’s pages in their newspapers Anne became editor of the women’s pages of the Ceylon Daily News (CDN) and Sunday Observer. She was 22 and the first Sri Lankan woman to head these pages and the only woman in the editorial at the time.

Out of all those problems and hindrances in the way of success Anne Abayasekara carved her way out of the mist. Like her many other women have faced the reluctance of media institutions to shoulder the liability, responsibility or, indeed, the ‘embarrassment’ of having deployed a member of the ‘weaker sex’ on dangerous assignments.

Pick your copy now to read many such interesting stories of how despite of many barriers women have actively participated in mainstream print and electronic media