The Express Tribune
Published Date: Apr 5, 2014
Women’s portrayal: Putting up a fight for a realistic image
Women’s portrayal in television reflects patriarchal
attitudes and superficial market trends. But a fight must be put up for
accurate depictions of women’s issues in broadcast media, according to
Hashmi, a veteran producer and the daughter of legendary Urdu poet
Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Alys Faiz, was in conversation at the Sustainable
Development Policy Institute (SDPI) office as part of the institute’s
‘Woman of Substance’ series.
The series aims at highlighting the achievements of women achievers
and to inspire change through sharing their lived experience, the series
moderator Dr Maleeha Aslam, Head of SDPI’s Gender and Human Security
The conversation session also marked with the launch of her book, "Who Am I?", which is based on interviews of 20 prominent women Hashmi
had conducted for the Pakistan Television (PTV) series “Tum jo chaho tau
About women’s depiction on TV, Hashmi said she herself was part of a
joint project of the PTV with the UNDP which formulated directions for
television programming to identify content that is insensitive towards
"The directives are all there," she said. "Somebody needs to take control but no one takes ownership of these things."
She said a private TV official recently told her that these days the
criteria to get some TV dramas on air is how many times a woman is
slapped in the play and how many times she can be seen crying. Hashmi
said it is difficult for one person to fight this battle alone. But she
said someone has to take a stand.
She said at PTV, producers had some semblance of being public
servants and therefore producing content with public awareness themes.
But that same sensibility seems missing in private channels, she said.
"Sometimes commercial channels seem like they haven’t quite
understood who their audiences are," Hashmi, who also created PTV’s
exclusive broadcasting for women titled “Khawateen Time”, said. "They
don’t have focus."
So social issues sometimes weave their way into the television
narrative — especially around international days — but are ignored most
of the times, she said.
About her book, Hashmi said she knew most of the subjects before but
when she met them for the interview, she discovered there was more to
the personality of the women she was interviewing.
"I discovered how great they were," Hashmi, who was also the first
woman to head PTV Lahore as general manager, said. The book is supposed
to be an opportunity for the younger generation to know about the lives
of amazing Pakistani women and their superlative achievements. The
title, Hashmi said, is "Like a cry, like a lament, a wrenching cry ‘who
am I?’” It is Pakistani women trying to discover themselves, she said.
National Commission on the Status of Women Chairperson Khawar Mumtaz
said the book was a rich collection of accounts of women role models
from diverse walks of life. She said the format was interesting because
it provided a snapshot of the women interviewed at a specific point in
time, from where the future trajectory of their careers can also be.
A Pride of Performance recipient, Hasmi, who is currently engaged in
several creative endeavors including working for a private entertainment
channel, spoke candidly about her personal life.
She said it was sometimes difficult carrying the name of her
illustrious father, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, who, she said, was almost an
"My mother was the one who held all of us together," she said. "We
never got a lesson from our parents on don’t do this or don’t do that.
Their personalities were role models for us."
Hashmi said her two granddaughters are the most influential people in
her life and she said she hopes they will carry the family mantle to
make her and Pakistan proud.