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Media Baithak was an idea before it developed into a reality. There was a community need to create a space for informed and interactive dialogue as a means to overcome social, political, economic and cultural divides. The initiative behind it was to draw links between the media and civil society and therefore activities were designed that increased participants capacity to engage with their surroundings.
The areas of focus are threefold at Media Baithak; dialogue and performance sessions to support and bring focus to those individuals or groups that otherwise do not have the platform or opportunity to present their work. Journalist trainings that enable the participants to familiarize themselves with the most up to date media tools and techniques in order to stay relevant and relatable in contemporary times. Lastly, the round-table sessions that are organized at Media Baithak are structured around impact areas that specifically pertain to different variants of human rights and how they correspond to efforts in countering violent extremism.
Najia Ashar, founder GNMI and Media Baithak, aimed to build not only a space but a narrative that challenged the shrinking civic capacity, limitations on freedom of speech and everyday forms of intolerance. To refute these threats to a peaceful community, Media Baithak set out to promote and establish governance based on democratic principles, respect for human rights, especially women’s rights, and advocate for media literacy and the collaboration between civil society and media.
The programs and activities that take place here are broadcasted online as well to allow for as many people to participate, albeit digitally, as possible. The participants would be asked for their insight on the impact of the topics of discussion in short interviews that would be disseminated on the social media platforms of Media Baithak. These interviews would be given subtitles so as to make them more accessible. Aside from this there was also efforts made to include as many women participants as possible to challenge the gender disparity that is felt across the nation.
Media Baithak’s digital campaign revolves around CSOs and media, highlighting civil society suggestions of CVE, collaborative efforts and effective citizen engagement. The simplified form of social media communication includes; awareness posts, registration announcement, inspirational video, program pictures, interviews and post program digital storytelling. Between 2019 to 2020 total 502 participants attended the sessions at Media Baithak, out of which 186 (37%) were women. There were a total of 141 digital videos produced with 131 short interviews, and 21 digital stories.
In arranging these activities, it was possible for Media Baithak to facilitate the emergence of civil society organizations (CSO’s) to overcome their silo-approaches to civic discourse and enable a more holistic resolution to some of the most incumbent social pressures facing Pakistani society today.