ISLAMABAD Two-day national conference kicked off at National Press Club Islamabad Saturday to address various issues of female journalists in the country. The National Press Club has organised the conference on Gender Discrimination in Media and Capacity Building Sessions for Female Journalists in which about 200 female journalists are participating from across the country and presidents of press club of different cities have also been invited to attend the sessions. The main objective of the conference is to reinforce and strengthen the role of women in the media of Pakistan and to discuss and help find solutions to the challenges faced by them relating to gender disparity through debate. Federal Information Minister Firdos Ashiq Awan who was the guest speaker at a session shared her experiences with the journalists when she was a medical student and being a female political leader, as she had to go for political gatherings and processions. She said she once was harassed by a person during a political rally during her early days when she joined politics but she in a huge gathering pinpointed that person cleverly and made him an example in front of all the workers that no one never dared to touch or harass her during 10 years of her political career. She said she asked every person of the rally to come on stage and beat him with the shoes so that he should not think of doing that again. She informed that the government is contemplating to establish a media university and by the next financial year a pilot project would be started and women journalists would have a major role to play. Afzal Butt, President NPC, said recommendation that would come out from the two-day deliberations would be sent to the media organisation owners to implement them in their organisations and presidents of press club of various cities would also implement in their press clubs to make the environment for women journalists favourable. Female journalists from different organisations also shared their experiences and challenges they have been facing in their fields. They said the media industry has so far failed to realise the sensitivities of female journalists and thus has not been able to provide a secure enough environment for them to work in. Despite being capable professionals, female journalists are facing discrimination within the industry, making difficult for them to excel in their profession and hampering the equal dispersion of opportunities. The speakers said the primary issues being faced by majority of the female journalists are sexual harassment, gender discrimination, lack of training and career growth opportunities, lack of representation in journalist unions and bodies. Dr Fauzia Saeed, Chairman of Implementation Watch Committee on Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010 said it has been a one-year since the passage of the Act and the implementation is in the process. She said both public and private organisations are adopting the code of conduct and implementing the law in their organisations but the media organisations themselves are reluctant to implement it. She said only few major organisations have adopted it and the rest of the organisations have never informed the watch committee formed under the National Commission on the Status of Women about the status of the implementation in their organisations. She said female journalists should form a network and coordinate with the committee to keep it updated about the implementation of the law in their respective organisations. Chairperson, NSCW, Anis Haroon said women in every field have been facing harassment problems and we must collectively fight to end discrimination against them. She urged the need to write history of female journalists who have rendered great services in media since independence. Mazhar Abbas, senior journalist, highlighting the issue of corruption in media said accountability mechanism must be devised to address the issue of such bad practices.