Media: Although progress has been made in terms of providing education and professional development for women, only a small percentage of women are in senior leadership roles in the newsrooms.

In any newsroom, male outnumber female in managerial positions.

Some 18 female journalists attended a three-day leadership training held in Paro that ended yesterday.

Trainer Prerna Suri said that women journalists need to be empowered to be more assertive and to have their voices heard in a male-dominated newsroom.

“Newsrooms will produce a lot more quality journalism if there is equal number of men and women in the newsroom. A newsroom can’t be defined by just men’s voices,” said Prerna Suri. If there is a diversity of voices, portrayal of women in media will change and they  will not be seen as sexualised objects, she added.

“I hope the situation for women journalist changes in the next few years,” she said.

Records with Bhutan Media Foundation show that despite the fact that majority of people working in the media houses in Bhutan are women, the top positions are mostly filled by men.

Passang Lhamo, a reporter with a private newspaper, said that women journalists needed training to lead newsrooms.

A freelance journalist Kesang Dema said that there are women who could walk for more than 10 days just to get their story done and there are also male journalists who haven’t even stepped beyond Thimphu. “If special focus are given to women, Women will definitely rise.”

It was also recognised that the reason why there are fewer senior women journalists in newsrooms is because they do not stay back long enough to become editors or rise to top managerial positions because of the nature of work in the newsrooms.

“Women have to juggle between work and personal life,” said Kesang Dema. “Things vastly change for women after they get married.”

BMF executive director Dawa Penjor said that there is a need to address the issue and a beginning has to be made from somewhere. “Through the training, we hope to see positive changes in how the newsrooms function in the country.”

Currently, there are 68 newswriters in the country. More than half constitute women.

By Thinley Zangmo