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“The perception that women journalists are only capable of reporting on women’s issues is false, and it’s up to you to prove this through your work,” chief editor of the Himalayan Times, Prakash Rimal, said to participants of an Interaction on Parliamentary Reporting for women reporters organized by the Working Women Journalists (WWJ) with support of UNDP’s Parliamentary Support Project (PSP). The programme was centred on discussing the rarity of women journalists reporting on parliamentary issues in Nepal, the reasons behind this phenomenon, and ways to combat it going forward.

In his presentation, Rimal encouraged the reporters at the workshop to grab at any opportunities they could to pursue political stories, or indeed any subject of their interest. “Beat reporting is actually quite restrictive, especially if you are just starting out in journalism,” he said. “Journalists should be generalists, and you need to acquire as wide-ranging experience as you can early on to understand where your interests lie.”

Participants also discussed many of the “practical problems” that prevent women from political journalism, including long hours, safety concerns and social strictures, but agreed that while the newsroom culture needs to open up and provide more opportunities to women reporters, reporters themselves also need to be persistent and take initiative.

Responding to some of the participants' observations that one of the reasons political reporting is still male-dominated is because women reporters are often ignored by the politicians, Rimal said: “If political leaders ignore women journalists, or if male reporters ignore women political leaders, they're both great stories. Just write one.”

“We want more women to report on parliamentary issues, to bring out well-researched, in-depth stories, from gender and inclusion perspectives in particular,” said Kalpana Sarkar, PSP Programme Analyst. “We want to see and hear from more womenleaders in the media, and this can only happen when women journalists are encouraged to expand their horizons.”

The interaction also included an orientation on basic lawmaking processes and the media’s portrayal of the same by Yam Bahadru Kisan and Dila Pant respectively from PSP, as well as a special session on Nepal’s experiences in parliamentary reporting by journalist and writer Jagat Nepal.

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