Media’s role vital for empowering women, promote gender equality: Neil Hawkins

Islamabad: Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Neil Hawkins, on Monday, said that Australia was committed to being at forefront of efforts to empower women and promote gender equality around the world, including in Pakistan.

Speaking to the participants of the media training workshop jointly organized by the Australian High Commission and the Centre for Excellence in Journalism, Neil Hawkins highlighted the importance of gender equality and how societies that value women and men as equal were safer and healthier.

“The role of media is critical in making this happen. Hawkins said that the media has the power to create awareness on the rights, needs and vulnerabilities of women and girls, as well as challenge traditional social and cultural norms and attitudes that condone violence against women,” Hawkins added.

“Gender-based violence is a shared challenge and remains the most pervasive human rights violation worldwide. Unfortunately, prevalence is increasing due to intersecting climate change crises, global conflict, and economic instability. Crises like the floods that inundated much of the country in August increase the vulnerability of women and girls to many forms of violence,” the High Commissioner said.

Moreover, High Commissioner Hawkins reflected on his visit to Quetta last week, where he met with a number of gender-based violence survivors receiving assistance through the support of Australia. He added, “We must shift social norms that accept violence and tackle gender stereotypes head-on. Prevention is the only way to stop violence before it even occurs. This requires greater investment in women’s organizations and addressing the multiple forms of discrimination women face daily.”

Renowned Australian journalist and advocate for gender equity, Virginia Haussegger, said, “As a journalist, it is our job to shine a light on systemic failures to keep women safe. It is also critical that we deepen our understanding of the role of perpetrators and support women victim-survivors to raise their voice in the media.”

Journalists reporting on women’s rights, including news editors from Pakistan’s mainstream media, attended the workshop.