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Role-Model for Female Journalists in Pakistan

Pakistani journalist, Rabia Mehmood has made a name for herself by being fearless in reporting about significant socio-political upheavals in Pakistan. She is the sixth recipient of the IWMFs Elizabeth Neuffer Fellowship.
Express 24/7 reporter Rabia Mehmood from Pakistan won the prestigious IWMF Elizabeth Neuffer Fellowship

“I was completely directionless,” Rabia Mehmood, a Pakistani journalist says reminiscing about her undergraduate college days. “At the most, I thought I’d end up teaching English Literature somewhere.”

But much has changed since then.

What followed was a Master's in Mass Communication from a college in Lahore and then, a stimulating career as a broadcast journalist in the Lahore bureau of Express 24/7, an English Pakistani TV channel after grad school in 2007.

“Since I come from a simple Punjabi family, pursuing a Master's in Mass Communication was unheard of in my family,” she says.

At Express, Rabia Mehmood was offered a position as an anchor for the organization’s Urdu channel but she turned the offer down. “I wanted to learn the craft first,” she says, “I wanted to learn production.”

Having reported on significant socio-political events in the country, such as the state of emergency (declared by ex-President Musharraf in 2007), the lawyer’s movement for the restoration of the judiciary in Pakistan (in 2009), and bomb blasts, Rabia Mehmood stands as a role model for many young Pakistani women hoping to make a name for themselves in the field of broadcast journalism in the country.

At Express, Rabia Mehmood was offered a position as an anchor for the organization’s Urdu channel but she turned the offer down. “I wanted to learn the craft first,” she says, “I wanted to learn production.”

Currently, Rabia Mehmood is the sixth recipient of the International Women's Media Foundation’s Elizabeth Neuffer Fellowship which is awarded to one female journalist every year to be a research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for International Studies in Boston for a period of nine months.

“My interest was towards social change,” Rabia Mehmood says, “I know that’s a very academic term, but I’ve always been inclined towards that.”

When she joined Express, Rabia Mehmood put in long hours at work. She “was the first one to reach office and the last one to leave.” She says while laughing; “I didn’t want anyone to make excuses for me on behalf of my gender that I couldn’t work late because I was a ‘girl’. No way was that going to happen!”

When she joined Express, Rabia Mehmood put in long hours at work. She “was the first one to reach office and the last one to leave.” She says while laughing; “I didn’t want anyone to make excuses for me on behalf of my gender that I couldn’t work late because I was a ‘girl’. No way was that going to happen!”

Given Pakistan’s volatile security situation over the last few years, Rabia Mehmood has been reporting at the frontline of significant political events. And for a young Pakistani woman, that isn’t an easy feat.

“I’ve seen so much just because of reporting,” she says, “It really has been one of the most learning experiences for me as a journalist.”

Courtesy: South Asian Journalists Association

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