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COVID-19: Women journalists speak on stigma, discrimination and share Coronavirus stories

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Media  Coronavirus  Discrimination  Journalism  Bhopal  Sravani Sarkar  Anil Gulati  UNICEF





BHOPAL: Women journalists shared their experiences about reporting Coronavirus and spoke on the important issue of discrimination and stigma during the pandemic.

Around 100 participants joined from all over the State, including journalists and students of journalism. Speaking as a special guest at the meet, Sanchita Sharma, Editor Health and Science, Hindustan Times, spoke about the stories from across India of COVID warriors done by her and her team.

She said that apart from doctors and nurses, the stories of health support staff including mortuary personnel and hospital guards should also be looked into as to how they manage to do their duty and go beyond in such times. She reiterated that we still need to be careful and follow protocols regarding the use of facemask, maintain social distancing and washing hands with soap-sanitizer frequently, as we go to the ground and report stories. 'Each one of us must protect ourselves to stop the spread of COVID', she said.

Sravani Sarkar, Special Correspondent, MP & CG, The Week,spoke about reporting of stories on how different sections of people including civil society, students and common people rose to the occasion and helped during the pandemic and showed that humanity still prevails.

She said that when stories like that of a friend of different religion staying back with a sick person when everyone else ditched them, reposes faith in humanity. She also spoke on the challenges of doing stories in times of COVID-19 but said that journalists do manage to come up with new ideas to ensure that stories and voices from the ground did get heard.

Education Specialist, UNICEF, MP, FA Jami, shared that 'School closure during the Covid-9 times is not easy for children. Although there are efforts by the government to support learning at home, the absence of mobile or other gadgets exclusive for each child is a challenge amongst the majority of the families. Inability to go out, meet friends and play is adding to the anxiety amongst children.

It's time to make preparations for school reopening with clear protocols on school safety, establish community dialogue for adherence to safety protocols and develop a blended teaching learning approach of online and offline mode.' Ruby Sarkar of Jubilee Post, shared stories from villages of Chhatarpur, Tikamgarh in MP of women who were fighting the challenges, yet supported migrant workers by growing vegetables and crops in their fields. She spoke about the issue of water challenges and how that is also linked to the present crisis of COVID19.

Shruti Tomar of Hindustan Times, Bhopal,  spoke about the couple from Jharkhand where the husband drove a two-wheeler for hundreds of kms so that his pregnant wife could appear for an entrance examination. When this story went viral, the couple received help not only to return safely but also for their future like the studies of the woman and source of livelihood too.

Senior Reporter, City Bhaskar, Gwalior, Rupali Thakur, shared stories of migrating workers passing through gwalior which touched her heart and something they could do to highlight the challenge. Free Press' correspondent Smita, shared about the stories she had reported from the ground, on the challenges, work being done by COVID19 heroes and youth groups during COVID19. 

Head of Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Dr Sonalee Nargunde thanked the speakers and said that this was a useful interactive session which helped media students and will also pave way for furre work with all the participating women speakers.

Communication Specialist, Anil Gulati, Coordinated the meet and said that this is part of effort by UNICEF in partnership with School of Journalism and Mass Communication, DAVV Indore to bring stories of COVID19 times, and also seek support from media to keep the momentum going and touch upon issues of education, immunization and others. Dr Vandana Bhatia, Health Specialist, UNICEF, MP responded to technical questions and answers of the participants on COVID19 and the newer issues.

This meet on the theme of media and COVID19 was held under the aegis of School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Devi Ahilaya University and UNICEF. The theme of the meet was on stigma and discrimination and sharing stories of COVID19 warriors, from the ground by participating women journalists from Delhi, Bhopal, Gwalior and Indore.