Create gender-friendly spaces in Nepali media
Three ways to realize the vision:
1) Normalize conversations on gender diversity in talk shows.
2) Produce digital shows that leave a positive imprint on society.
3) Smash patriarchal practices in Nepali media.
We need inclusiveness in every field and the first step in this should be creating a gender-friendly environment. It’s not just about males and females, but also about the LGBTIQA+ community. Nepal as a country has missed out on the services of so many passionate people due to the biases that every sector has when it comes to gender. The media sector is no exception.
The media, of course, is regarded as the fourth state as it can change a lot of things in society. I think the media should be gender inclusive, both on- and off-air. Sadly, this has not been the case in Nepal till now. We can’t even treat males and females equally; talking about the inclusiveness and equality of LGBTIQA+ is thus far-fetched.
Regarding my vision statement and its materialization, I have been doing my bit for a long time. All media personalities, who are at the decision-making level, should work on it. They should apply the principle of inclusiveness in whatever they do. It doesn’t cost them an extra penny nor does it have any negative consequences. So, why not take this revolutionary step?
To change the way we have been doing things for a long time, we need to speak about them first. Speaking about things helps make conversation about it comfortable and to slowly move into the phase of change. Our media should speak and create conversations on matters that are outside the society’s comfort zone.
For instance, last year, I collaborated with an organization that works for lesbians, bisexuals, and transmen. We came up with an idea about making a program about issues related to their sexual and reproductive health. We talked to experts in different fields and we were able to highlight these things on an open platform, which helped many people.
Jeevan Sathi, a typical Nepali couple talk show, is now on its third season and since day one, my team has invited guests from all walks of life. We have also prioritized couples from the LGBTIQA+ community and their stories instead of focusing just on heterosexual couples.
In my experience, I have learnt that we must conduct adequate research on the topic we want to cover before we go ahead with the production of any show. You should know the right terminologies. Otherwise, you end up disrespecting people with different sexual orientations. The terms that our society uses for queer people also reflect the rate of our illiteracy. We need to remember that interviewing means getting people to answer, not making the guests uncomfortable.
I have been in this field for two decades now. When I started doing shows, there was a dearth of female mediapersons not only among hosts but also among producers and members of the technical team. During those times, working late hours for females was a big deal and in this profession, you do not have a specific work time.
Women and girls have been fighting for equal pay, a spot in the management team, and good content for their shows. The management team, where you barely find a woman, wants a woman to do only ‘fluff’ (superficial) shows. Payment is one of the most serious issues we face as women in the media industry. Once I found out that my co-host, a junior male, was getting paid more than I was. So, unless we speak about it, people with patriarchal pride will not treat us according to our capacity.
The media bullies and creates controversial content related to female media workers. The way they portray us and the clickbait they use, especially on social media, are often discouraging. Time has come for girls and queers to fight this new challenge.
Thanks to my experience, I can now edit or change the script or say things I am uncomfortable about. But girls who have just started out don’t dare to speak up. When they are made to do things that they find embarrassing, they don’t have any option but to quit. People like me, who are vocal about their interests, often get a tag of “difficult to work with.”
Many things have, however, changed in the media industry, especially after 2010. I have felt a wave of change myself. Talented and educated people are now entering the workforce in large numbers.
Newcomers often come with huge expectations, but when the reality slaps, they can have a hard time adapting. But constant learning and understanding are what keeps them afloat. Everyone has to go through a transitional period.
Mediapersons have mental health issues too. I have been through it myself. But my viewers were the ones who helped me come out of it—my immense gratitude to them. I love and respect their constructive criticism, which helps me grow. We have to establish a culture of commenting respectfully. This is a professional field and everyone should do their best to keep it that way.
To conclude, we need to smash patriarchy to normalize diversified gender conversations. These conversations will create a big social impact.
What are some of your favorite books?
Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead and Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring.
Your role models?
Oprah Winfrey and Shonda Rhimes.
A quote you live by?
Live and let live.