If I had gone looking for a job in journalism, I would not have got it. I come from a family which was passionate about teaching and I too was trained to be a school teacher. It was almost a decade since I finished my academics, during which time I got married and had three children (twin sons and a daughter). I stumbled into journalism almost by accident and took a fair number of knocks – some hard on the face and some subtle and subterranean before I steadied myself in the profession..
So, when the idea of a separate club for women journalists came up informally among friends, I identified completely with the idea. For, by now, there were more women choosing journalism as their profession. Yet, it was very difficult for a lot of them to take it up as a full time profession – on account of domestic compulsions like care of children and/or elderly that required their presence at home at specific times. And working as freelancers posed its own set of impediments – limited access to newspapers, periodicals and other professional journals, lack of suitable space for work-related interactions and so on.
There was the counter-point. The Press Club of India was already a very well-established entity and creating a separate club for women journalists would introduce gender differences and issues among colleagues, particularly given the fact that there was no bar against women in the PCI and many women journalists were already members there.
True. But the proposed club was intended to facilitate work for freelance women journalists, besides a meeting place where specific problems of women journalists could be debated and solutions evolved. That is why the IWPC always paid special attention to its library section.
Bringing IWPC into being was a struggle. There was stiff opposition from many male colleagues and also several senior women journalists. But we plodded on and painstakingly laid the foundations of this robust institution.
Elections at IWPC are a particularly gratifying event for me. I remember the first elections, when we could not even find candidates enough to contest all its posts. In fact, the election was in danger of collapsing as no member was ready to file nomination for the post of general secretary. And there was just one candidate for almost every other post.
In these 25 years since its inception, the IWPC had come a long way. It is a prestigious national body for women journalists. It has distinguished itself for its work and is counted among premier media organisations.
I would like to believe that IWPC had a role in encouraging more women to take up journalism as a profession, and that it helps its members deal with the issue of balancing the competing and often conflicting pressures of work and personal life. I know it is not simple or easy, and it is not possible to say that life is easier for women journalists now. There are many different issues that manifest in myriad shapes and dimensions for women journalists – both at the workplace and on the domestic front.. IWPC, I am sure, will stand up to fight these battles and contribute towards neutralising gender disparities in journalism.