Pakistan’s first female photo journalist, Saadia Sehar, is the winner for the Rural Media Network Pakistan Sadiq Press Freedom Award 2011”, acknowledging her courage and dedication with profession .
She will be awarded cash prize of PKR 1, 25,000 during a ceremony in Ahmedpur East, District Bahawalpur on September 25, 2011. Saadia is the first woman to receive the World Association of Newspapers & News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) sponsored Award.
Her husband Azizullah Haidari ,a correspondent and photographer for the Reuters news agency, was shot dead by Talibans on November 19, 2001 in Afghanistan along
with his three colleagues, Harry Burton, an Australian cameraman for Reuters; Julio Fuentes, a Spanish correspondent for the Madrid-based newspaper El Mundo; and Maria Grazia Cutuli, an Italian correspondent for the Milan-based daily Corriere della Serra. http://www.cpj.org/killed/2001/azizullah-haidari.php
Saadia Sehar was teaching in a school in Pakistan, but after the killing of her husband in Afghanistan, she joined the journalism and got her master’s degree
in Mass Communication. She worked with Reuter as Radio and TV monitor and contributed stories to various local newspapers on women issues, extremism and terrorism. She also worked for Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) as staff writer and photo journalist and also acted as host and producer for current affairs programs at Vectone TV. Now she is affiliated with GEO TV channel in Islamabad, as reporter and cameraperson and working as stinger for China’s Xinhua news agency. Saadia was selected for one week ” International Training of Electronic Journalism” organized by UN Alliance, ICFJ & Research Centre for Human Resources in Nepal. She also benefitted with one week ICFJ training on “Freedom of Expression in the Digital Age” held in Alexandria, Egypt.
She was beaten and arrested by police on September 29, 2007 in Islamabad while covering a demonstration against former military dictator Pervez Musharraf , at least
one dozen other journalists also received injuries. She was again arrested on November 3, 2007 in Islamabad while protesting against the ban on GEO channel’s transmissions and detained for one night at G-6, Markaz Women Police Station in federal capital. “The recognition of Ms Saadia Sehar for the Award is a symbol of struggle for the right of information and a reminder to international community about the tragic conditions Pakistan has been suffering since the war on terror after 9/11 attacks,” Ehsan Ahmed Sehar, president Rural Media Network Pakistan PMNP)
Pakistan has become the deadliest place for journalists now, where 13 journalists have been killed during current year, according to RMNP monitoring. He said that Saadia Sehar set a new precedent for women in Pakistan media by adopting her husband‘s profession after his brutal murder.
There is urgent need to raise the status of women working in urban-oriented media by giving them decision making positions and to rectify the glaring absence of female rural journalists among the thousands of district correspondents representing 65% rural populace of the country.
The RMNP Sadiq Press Freedom Award was founded in March, 2005 to honor late Nawab Sir Sadiq Muhmmad Khan Khamis Abbasi,the last ruler of former Princely Bahawalpur State, who had given the right of adult franchise to the inhabitants of former Bahawalpur province in 1954, while other citizens of Pakistan were allowed to exercise this right in 1970.
The aim of this award is to recognize the courage and commitment of journalists and media organizations. Another aspect of the award is to divert national and international attention towards the state of media freedom in Pakistan. We hope, in future the award will promote a favorable culture for the freedom of expression.