Razia Mehsud

I belong to the tribal district of South Waziristan. The entire world knows what Waziristan has been through and how people migrated from there during military operations and faced huge problems.

South Waziristan has been the hardest among the tribal areas. Since I am from the same area, I observed that the basic problems over there have never been highlighted on media. Only terrorism was topic of the day. Since I also migrated from there during military operation, I observed and faced different problems. The problems of men were highlighted due to presence of male journalists, but there was no voice for highlighting women’s problem, so the women remained oppressed.

The women in Waziristan lagged behind in education due to lack of facilities. There was no one to raise a voice for them. They have health issues.

Women in Waziristan always thought who’d give tongue to her problems. I did not have a platform to speak for women. Finally, with the grace of Almighty Allah, I got a chance to participate in a training session of DW on Citizen Journalism. I got the platform after the training. Thanks God, I brought forward many problems and got the honour to be the first woman journalist from South Waziristan.

Challenges as reporter

There are countless challenges being a reporter among which many have been tackled and many are yet to go. We live in a society where women are deprived of basic facilities, they can’t step out, literacy rate is below par, educational institutes are used as guest houses, so in such a situation, joining media by a woman was not an easy thing to do. In the beginning, I was criticised, I was threatened, my family was pressurised, it was said that women from Waziristan can’t come on media, and they should better stay at home. A campaign was started against me. Slowly and gradually my work was seen by the people and criticism reduced and in some instances turned into appreciation as I highlighted such issues which never came into limelight earlier.

Support from family and community

Whenever a woman starts work, the very first problem start within own house, but with the passage of time, those problems are overcome, and same is the case with community. The community started making lots of problems for me, but I studied about many successful people and their lives and came to know that they were successful after facing  those problems courageously. In my family, my parents and husband supported me always and because of their support I am here today. My husband Kamran would always stand by me in every difficult situation and if his support was not there, I wouldn’t have been able to do anything.

Problems for TDPs

There are so many problems in our area, but the problems which are faced by women was about lack of education and non-functional hospitals. There is no emergency facilitation, stillbirths are common, and water, electricity and employment facilities are scarce. There is no centre for handicrafts for women where they may learn the art of handicrafts.

Another grave problem in South Waziristan is non-availability of mobile phone signals and 3G and 4G internet facility. The condition of roads is poor and women mostly travel on foot on difficult mountainous routes. There is no gas facility, which means increased problems for women while cooking food and doing other household tasks.

The main solution to all these problems will come in shape of educating the women, building hospitals and roads and providing internet facility.

Women journalists in crisis

There is a great need of presence of a female reporter in our area, because if there are many female reporters the problem will be highlighted in a befitting way and people will be more aware and this is all possible because of education. If females have more opportunities for better education, they will be able to provide local women with different specialities in different areas.

Ways to deal with dangers

South Waziristan is a sensitive area where anything can happen to a professional anytime particularly when someone is on field work without security. Security problems for women are even more challenging. But one has to believe in her capabilities and know that there is no gain without taking risks.

My stories are published on TNN, Dawn and Independent Urdu. My stories on women’s issues got good response. After encountering challenges successfully, now the situation is changing for the better in my career.