Nabeela Aslam – A Pakistani Journalist Gives Women a Voice

For Nabeela, doing radio mainly means reporting, producing, training and marketing for Meri Awaz Suno (“Hear My Voice”), the Internews-supported women’s radio production house which produces Pakistan’s first syndicated radio program by the same name.

Nabeela comes from a farming family in rural Punjab. The fifth of six daughters, she left home early to pursue a reporting career. She worked with a liberal newspaper until it closed down and then as a newsletter editor for a non-profit health organization. One day she saw an advertisement seeking producers for the weekly Meri Awaz Suno radio program, and she was soon hooked.

Internews launched Meri Awaz Suno in 2003 to give women a profile in Pakistani media. In Pakistan, only about 5% of all journalists are women, which means that even issues affecting women are reported from a male perspective. Nabeela and her team at Meri Awaz Suno have been producing a 15-minute radio magazine, which covers mainstream issues from women’s perspectives.

Meri Awaz Suno is now broadcast on some 20 FM stations across Pakistan. In addition to Meri Awaz Suno, Nabeela and her team produce two other programs – Shakhsi Khakay (“Personal Profiles”), in-depth profiles of famous and not-so-famous women in Pakistan, and a radio drama series on women’s reproductive health issues.

“Women speaking about issues in their own voices is very powerful. We need more women on air!” says Nabeela. Meri Awaz Suno has trained 140 women in radio journalism at the Fatima Jinnah Women’s University (where it was housed in 2005), Rawalpindi; Kinnaird College, Lahore; and the National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad.

“Radio journalism is developing in Pakistan,” says Nabeela. “With training, women can produce quality work and be on a par with their male colleagues.”