Time and again people have pointed out that female journalists, who are only six percent of Pakistan’s journalists, stick to pink topics such as entertainment, fashion, culture, lifestyle and homemaking.  The journalism expected from them is less issue-oriented and more entertaining and personality oriented. They are discouraged from covering real issues by steering their professional growth towards magazines and in-house jobs. But the landscape for female journalists is changing and it is changing for better. They are doing stories from current affairs to social issues to crime and investigative stories. They are coming forward as leaders of their respective departments.

Rising women journalism in Pakistan is a welcome change especially when Pakistan has long been portrayed as a country which suppresses its women and restricts them to households. Though vast majority of our women are home-bound and dependent on male members for outside activities, but the country cannot ignore the services of working women since its inception. Today's women have broken the shackles of feminist taboos attached with them and along with it their job descriptions have revolutionised. Now we see women outshining in almost all practical fields. They are fighter pilots, athletes, musicians, engineers, chefs, public transport drivers, politicians, managers and entrepreneurs and in many other professions.

Keeping in view the growing trends, the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) came up with a smart approach of investing in the development and training of emerging leaders in the Pakistani journalism horizons. In this capacity, Center for Excellence in Journalism (CEJ) and Institute of Business Administration(IBA) Karachi in a collaborated effort organised ICFJ Alumni Summit. “It is a great pleasure and honour for me to attend such a worth learning summit. It has given me opportunity to learn from renowned journalists and to meet fellows and amazing journalists from all over Pakistan,” rejoiced Mehwish Akram, Producer News at Express TV.

The event was attended by 150 journalists from across Pakistan, among them were around 40 females who visited USA under the professional exchange programme and worked for different media outlets. These were the excelling women from almost all main departments of media organisations. Umul Baneen, Reporter/co-ordinatior Such TV said, “It is interesting that whatever I learnt in U.S I implemented in my both professional tracks (teaching and broadcasting). It gave me a chance to review my professional understanding about the field of journalism for development needs of Pakistan.”

It was witnessed that many a times these incredible women overshadowed their fellow male colleagues and totally owned the session with their intelligence and unique experiences.   Keeping in view the diversified participants, the organisers sensibly invited panelists and speakers and tried to maintain a gender balance among them. One of the participants, journalist and RJ Noreen Khan said, “The programme helped young women journalists to excel in their field without any prior thinking of gender discrimination. Being a woman I can work and report even in those circumstances where I felt awkward before or kept behind.”

Keynote speaker of the event was Ethan Bronner, managing editor for international news at Bloomberg. Other prominent trainers were Lam Thuy Vo and Wajahat Ali from Al Jazeera America, Azmat Khan from BuzzFeed News, Sadaf Baig from Bytes for All, Sheheryar Popalzai an ICFJ Knight Fellow, and Patrick Butler of ICFJ. “With foreign trainers and ICFJ staff, the training sessions were extremely useful. It was an ideal platform for journalists to have a refresher course, interact with the trainers and meet up with fellow media professionals,” said Mariyam Ali Dhillon, Programme Manager at Media Foundation 360.

The event was pleasantly organised by Christie Lauder and her team who pulled it off successfully. Madiha Shah, Communications Manager, CEJ-IBA appreciated her team’s efforts and said, “Initially the task of organising such an event sounded daunting especially when it involved journalists from across the country. But with the entire team's efforts and dedication we received applause and appreciation from the participants and partners alike was a proud moment for all of us.”

CEJ-IBA provided a chance to get insight of advanced digital media through productive and beneficial training sessions about social media, multimedia, video journalism, data journalism, digital security, investigate journalism, future of news. This summit was of great significance for journalists to exchange ideas and networking as well. Saman Iqbal, Feature Package Reporter in Samaa TV asserted, “I am the proud ICFJ Female alumni who always want to be on this platform. This is a world of new techniques and learning and being a part of ICFJalumnisummit 2015 I have put my feet into this advance world.”

In Pakistan we could hardly see ethics in reporting because a journalist is not a decision maker but simply a follower of the media owners. Javeria Tareen, a freelancer for United Press International was of the view, “ICFJ has become a mother institute for so many journalist who never had any opportunity before. During the summit journalist got training from world best trainers.”

Moreover, the summit drew attention towards a rather interesting trend that many of the alumni members were teaching journalism in different colleges and universities and hence, proving helpful in reducing the gap between academia and practical journalism. With a perfect amalgamation of beauty with brains, the female participants of ICFJ Alumni Summit boosted up their streamline skills and knowledge with effective training.