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Exclusive Interview of Hanif Ullah Jan with Shayesta Hakim, first female journalist from Swat, Pakistan


- My name is Shayesta Hakim and I am from Swat, Pakistan. I belong to an area where literacy ratio is very low but we have worked hard to get education and for that even I have to leave my home.

Educational Qualification

- I have done Master in Media and Mass communication from University of Swat in 2014. Our batch was the first batch of the university and now I am working as a journalist in the conflict zone of Swat.

Why did you choose journalism as a profession?

- From the childhood, my dream was to become a journalist and I wish to go to television. Gradually, I achieved that goal. When the situation in Swat was tense and there was militancy, we were compelled to migrate from our native area. I can’t forget that scene. I saw my elders and youth in very terrible conditions that I couldn’t explain. Our media was keeping us updated time to time and from that situation, I visualize that I will become journalist and will become voice of my people.

 In 2011, I started writing columns for the newspapers and then I took admission in    the newly established Swat University. With academics, I also start working in our university radio and now I am working with Radio Pakistan as well.

What hurdles do you face in the field of journalism?

- With the grace of ALLAH, I am going well in my field and my colleagues are also very cooperative with me and have always shown straight path to me. Hurdles are everywhere, but a person should be hard enough to face the mercies of the time. Though journalism in our culture is not considered good for a female especially, but I am going well and with the threats and hurdles, I am committed to be a part of the journalism.

Do your parents support you?

Yes, my parents have always supported me. That’s why I am sitting in front of you giving interview. My whole family has supported me on every stage. Whenever I go outside, my brother is with me and with their support, I have traveled to some areas which are even inaccessible for me.

What is the response of the community, as in Pukhtoon society, working of female outside is not considered good?

- There are always negative and positive people in all societies. Our people are very innocent and are deceived by whatever other people say to them. But after the conflicts and exposure people have now become aware of all the things and now accept that women are also part of society and can work as men.

Which problems do women face mainly?

- Majority of people of our society do not want to send their female to work and in our area very rare female can be seen in the field of journalism. The other thing is that women have been provided with very less opportunities of working in the native area. If women are provided with doorstep working opportunities, the whole scenario can change.

What is your advice for female wishing to work in field of journalism?

- To all brothers and sisters who wish to work in the field of journalism I would say that journalism is respectable field. It is the eyes and ears of society but if considered as a noble cause rather than done for individual benefit.

Have you ever been appreciated in terms of award and etc?

- Yes, I have always been supported by my colleagues and other people and they have given me a lot of confidence which is real award for me. But in addition to it, I have also received awards on some stories which I have done like on 8th March 2013. I was given appreciation award for my story on early marriages from radio Pakistan.

What should a state do for the benefit of journalists to encourage them?

- Government can work a lot for the social welfare of journalists, especially female journalists. Government can establish academies for them and can give financial benefits, etc.
I have been offered jobs at some other places like Peshawar where there is a great potential for growth, but I can’t go outside my native area, because here I feel safe. I wish to work wholeheartedly for the people of my area, so that’s why I am here.

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