Globally, neither the mainstream nor alternative media has shown much interest in women's issues and whatever has been covered mostly is rather negative and wrongly projected. The media does not seem to have given adequate attention to important issues that concern women's welfare. In general, on women's issues the media has been at best elitist and at worst sensational and irresponsible.
According to a survey on women in the media, it is estimated that women represent fewer percent of employees in newspapers and magazines, films, and radio broadcasting in most of the countries in the world. Furthermore, a smaller percentage is engaged at the managerial level. One of the main reasons for limited involvement of women in the press and in the field of writing may be their isolation from exposure and exchange of ideas with the outside world.
Many women deliberately avoid this because they think journalism means hard work and less pay. Hence, it seems that we at first must direct its efforts to make the print media stand on its feet. Since the fourth estate remains one of the pillars of democracy, all possible help must be rendered to the print media for its healthy growth. This being the reality, it has always been difficult for the media to flourish.
As there is no adequate representation of women journalists in the media, more and more women should be encouraged to join the profession.
Women's participation in mass media began as early as some years ago. Since then, different women personalities have been persevering to raise the female cause in the media almost on a regular basis. But still women's participation in the existing media as journalists, editors, reporters, writers, and script writers is very nominal. This applies to both print and electronic media.
Media and Nepali Women
The first women's magazine in Nepal was published 56 years ago. Mahila, which was mainly a bulletin about a women's organization, was published in 1951. It was the first magazine in Nepal to be edited, managed, and published entirely by women.
Four months after the release of Mahila in 1951, another monthly women's magazine, Prabha, was published. This magazine, too, was only published once and disappeared. Then another magazine, Pratibha, was started under its leadership in women's liberation movement, however, and it was closed after a year of publication. In the meantime, Jana Bikas, another magazine of a different style, was started under the editorship of Rama Devi Pant in 1953. But this magazine was also discontinued after 12 issues. In 1958, a new magazine, Swasnimanchhe (women), was started. At the same time that Swasnimanchhe was in public, another magazine under a women editor, Chetana, was started. But this magazine also could not continue for more than six issues. Although, there had been many magazines with various publication schedules fortnightly, monthly, quarterly.
In this context, in 1972 and in 1973 two women's magazines came into existence. They were Gargi, edited by Manjla Giri, and Nari, edited by Shova Duwal. Most of them usually disappeared after a few issues without making any solid contribution to the society. Therefore, women's journalism was almost back to zero when Asmita was first published in 1988.
It was a good sign that more and more women's magazines and papers were coming to support women to express their problems and experiences but due to financial, administrative, and management reasons, after a few issues they also disappeared. Nowadays some other general magazines believe that their duty is fulfilled if a small column for women is provided. But this does not bring any change in the status of women. Hence, more and more women's magazines and women journalists need to come forward.
Media should not publish anything that degrades the weaker sections of society. This code of conduct is forgotten very often while writing on women's issues. The media should improve its own restrictions and standards on items that humiliate and discriminate against women.