Four podcasts in MIL for Women discussed key challenges faced by women like digital harassment, deep digital divide against women, digital misrepresentation of women, and breast cancer.
The first episode in our 4-part podcast series on gendered disinformation provided listeners with an insight into the digital experiences of women in Pakistan who have to deal with gendered disinformation if they speak about their rights in public spaces. The podcast contained audio narrations of women, who had chosen to remain anonymous, on digital rights of women and disinformation. One woman spoke about what happened when a doctored image of herself from a Women’s Day march went viral, and what she had to do to correct the narrative. The podcast also had policy recommendations on how authorities and social media platforms can make Internet safer for women.
The second episode of the 4-part podcast series under #MILforWomen focused on how the deep gender digital divide in Pakistan pushes women and girls out of mainstream conversation, or discourse on politics and society, ultimately making them vulnerable to disinformation and misinformation, myths and propaganda. The podcast featured three women; a young researcher on gender, a budding journalist and radio jockey, and the editor of a Philippines-based fact check organization, Vera Files. Amna Ashraf, a gender researcher, discussed the factors that hinder women and girls’ access to technology and Internet, while Sehrish Kanwal talked of the difficulties of accessing Internet in the mountains of Gilgit-Baltistan, and how this leads woman in her region to believe whatever information is told to them, which is often rooted in misogyny. Meeko Angela Camba from Vera Files discussed gendered disinformation and targeting of female politicians and celebrities, especially under President Duterte’s regime.
The third episode of the #MILforWomen podcast series was on gender representation in Pakistani media, and why it must be questioned. PhD scholar and journalist Tehreem Azeem spoke about different dramas and movies in Pakistan where women characters are shown as weak or submissive, and the dangerous ideas that are propagated about women through these mediums. Laiba Zainab, a content creator, spoke about how women are pushing back these narratives with social media, bringing witty and light commentary on society through TikTok and Instagram.
In the fourth episode of the #MILforWomen podcast series, women’s health was the focus as it was published in October, which is the Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The discussion centred around the dangers of health-related disinformation spread by social media influencers and celebrities; diets, tips and suggestions that should ideally be coming from a licensed professional. The podcast featured a healthcare professional. Dr. Mahra Butt, who spoke about medical systems in Pakistan and how media, rather than playing a responsible role, often amplifies disinformation by promoting home-made remedies to cure everything from acne to covid-19. Salwa Rana, a lawyer and activist, discussed how influencers who created mental health content mislead their audience who might be needing help from a professional therapist. The purpose of the discussion was to highlight the role of media in healthcare and why online sources should particularly be accessible to women, as in Pakistan they are primary caretakers, and empowering them could empower entire communities.