EIAS Conference on War, Peace and Journalism

May 14 2014
EIAS Conference on War, Peace and Journalism

Participation of Ms Madi Sharma as Speaker at the EIAS Conference on War, Peace and Journalism

The European Institute for Asian Studies (EIAS) is a leading Think and Do Tank based in Brussels and Luxembourg, the twin capitals of the European Union, focusing on EU-Asia relations. As a policy research centre, its aim is to promote understanding between the European Union and Asia. In its effort to strengthen ties between Asia and Europe and to ensure in-depth, comprehensive research and information exchange.


Geographically, EIAS focuses on North-East Asia, South-East Asia and South Asia, including related areas, covering a wide range of policy-related domains. By doing so, EIAS seeks to provide information to policy makers in Europe and Asia, as well as on a global scale, offering academic and hands-on expertise to bear on decision-making processes with regard to EU-Asia affairs and developments in Asia. EIAS also acts as a forum for discussion, dialogue and frequent exchanges of ideas, bringing together all relevant stakeholders from the institutional level, diplomatic missions, academia, the corporate sector, civil society, the media and all other important segments of society.


The conference was organised by the EIAS in cooperation with the East Anglia University, which had also invited 50 of its students that are focusing their studies in journalism and international relations to participate, as part of their training program.


As I pointed out, my title for the Conference will not be about War, Peace and Journalism but about Women, Peace and Journalism. That would give the whole picture.

There are currently over 1 billion children living in countries affected by conflict, including 300 million under 5 years old  according to UN estimates. Many children are among the civilian casualties of war. Children are often recruited by armed groups, as combatants or intelligence sources, or for sexual exploitation and forced labour. In 2013, an estimated 7 million children were refugees and between 11,2 and 13,7 million children were displaced within their own country due to conflict. Of the world's estimated 27 million refugees and 30 million displaced people, 80 per cent are women and children.

Despite conflicts and war women keep countries moving ahead and we should not be neglected.

I felt sad to mention that but in Nigeria the US intervened after a month, the EU after that, but the Malaysian plane crash was made public immediately. This is because there is discrimination against women and girls, and education is not a priority.

The reality is that there are insufficient women journalists, and for those that exist they experience discrimination. There is an expectation that whilst they can be sexy news presenters they cannot be business or war correspondents. And in many cases they are considered as just mothers and wives, who should stay at home. .

As I explained, in Afghanistan there have been cases of female journalists being killed. An Associated Press photographer was shot to death on the eve of Afghanistan's elections, on April 4, 2014, in an attack that wounded the news agency's long-time reporter in the region. Anja Niedringhaus, 48, a Pulitzer Prize-winning German photographer, died in the shooting in Afghanistan's eastern Khost province. In June 2007, Zakia Zaki, a well-known woman journalist in radio and television in Parwan province, was shot dead while she slept in her home. She had been receiving threats for her reportage for several weeks. Barely five days earlier, Sanga Amach, a young news presenter in a private television channel, was murdered in her home in Kabul. Police said it appeared to be a case of ‘honour’ killing, much like another killing a few years ago, where relatives were said to have killed a woman journalist. These were classified as honor killing because they consider that there should be no women journalist.

Pakistan, especially Baluchistan, is considered one of the most dangerous countries for journalists.

The solution is that men should take women more seriously and there should be protection and training for women journalists in the field.

The real story is women, trade and peacebuilding. The UN Security Counsil Resolutions have pointed towards that direction. When I last met HH the Dalai Lama he said “It is not about empowering women but about utilizing women. If women are given the resources then they can make a change.

Of course Kashmir was also an issue to be discussed. There have been so many discussions about Kashmir. I asked the participants, though, how many women are participating in the peace negotiations. I remember sitting with a women from the Pakistani embassy to discuss over the Kashmir issue but we were the only women there. It was a male dominated  meeting.

We need to bring women in because they bring stability. Trade for men is about money but for women trade is for independence, peace and stability. Trade, entrepreneurship and microfinance can bring results. There are many active women in Kashmir and we need to bring them to participate.

As I emphasized women can bring global stability and the role of media is important in promoting inclusiveness in economic, social and political initiatives.

Gandhi said you must be the change you want to see. I say you must be the change you want to see –no excuses.

You cannot just watch one TV station. You must hear from as many as possible because one way or the other there are interests behind. I called the audience to read as many different ones as they can.

The problem is that there is not enough financing for investigative journalism therefore corporate stakeholders can dictate the news. China is planning to buy New York Times. That is because they want positive coverage. They don’t want human rights issues. In Europe we also only hear about trade and not human rights in China.

Finally, I pointed out that we need to take women out of the beauty pages and put them in the business sector. Women participation is essential for economic and social development.

My speech was well received by the participants and I received an invitation to speak at another conference that will be organised by the University of East Anglia.


Other speakers included Prof John Street, Lecturer on Politics and Mass Media, University of East Anglia, Richard Werly, Journalist from Le Temps and Khalid Farooqi, journalist from the GEO TV of Pakistan.


This was a great opportunity for me to introduce the need of inclusiveness and protection of women in the peacebuilding efforts


I was really touched by the high number of Chinese students who approached me afterwards to ask questions on how they could change things in their country – we agreed that it was a great country with huge potential to develop the harmonious society they aspired to , but that it must be the young people who change the country to be what they want it to be.  I shared with them some of my views on China and they were very open to listening and questioning me, and it was really valuable to spend the time discussing the influence and value of the media. They have invited me to speak in China.  J


I have been asked to make a second presentation in East Anglia University to have a longer discussion about the work of the EESC and my role as a freelance journalist.  I hope that we might be able to make it a going local event where I could ask Jane Morrice to accompany me.


Please do not hesitate to contact me for any further information madi@madisharma.org.


Thank you for this great opportunity to introduce the EESC’s vision on women in the media with an Asian focus.


Madi  x


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