Please introduce yourself.
My name is Mehak Shahid and I am from Quetta. I recently completed my Masters in Media studies and have one year experience in working freelance. I initially interned at Balochistan 24 and afterwards I started working on my own on YouTube. I cover various sports news pieces and edit them myself to upload. In the future, I want to work for Balochistan and promote the talent we have here, especially the women because there aren’t many voices to speak for them.
How did you develop interest in sports and what led you to choose this field?
Even as a child, I had always wanted to make a name for myself and work for the betterment of Balochistan. In 2011, I saw the ICC Cricket World Cup semi-final between Pakistan and India. That is when my interest in sports developed and I started watching cricket matches and sports programs on various TV channels. I used to watch Syed Yahya Hussaini and Zainab Abbas and decided that I wanted to be like them.
I used to do commentary as I watched matches at home and would pretend to be a sports journalist in front of the mirror. Slowly I developed an interest in the media and in becoming a sports journalist. I saw that women in Quetta are unable to progress like those in other parts of the country have. Female cricketers here have not been given as many opportunities as others have. This is why I want to become a voice for them and promote them so they can get better opportunities.
How different is it being a female sports journalist in a male dominated field?
Most fields of career in our society have a lack of women, some have almost none. There is especially a lack of women in sports and sports journalism. The men in this field often say that it is not for women, which is why it is almost completely male dominated. Even the media industry in general is dominated by men. There are no female sports journalists in Balochistan and it is a huge honour for me to be the first. I would want other women to know that this field is for them too and they can definitely participate and work as well as the men.
How important do you think it is for females to join this field and what advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue this career?
It is very important. Sports is not just for men, it is for women too and they should work shoulder to shoulder with them. My advice to anyone wanting to pursue this field is to be confident in their abilities. Confidence is key, without it we can never succeed in our respective fields.
Honestly, even I was not confident when I started out. I gained confidence as I worked more. Women in Balochistan lack the confidence and family support to even leave their homes. Through my work I have become so confident that I’m not afraid to go anywhere, even if there are hundreds of men there.
What role do you think the families in Balochistan should play in empowering women, especially those who want to join the field of media?
In our society, women especially, need a lot of support from their families to be able to work. I feel like part of the reason I have succeeded is because my family has been very supportive. I know many women who, despite being full of talent, have not been able to do well in this field due to lack of familial support. They need to try and take a stand and ask their families for support. I feel like it is most important for women in Balochistan because they don’t even leave their homes without it. So families should definitely play a vital role in supporting these women, and the women should realize their potential as well.
You have a YouTube channel of your own. Can you tell us why you chose a digital platform instead of a mainstream news organisation?
YouTube and social media in general is a very independent platform. We have no timings and no one to stop us from spreading information. That is why I decided to use YouTube as my platform. It allows me to work the way I want to without any rules and limitations Otherwise, in news channels you would need to work according to their policies. Also, there aren’t many news channels in Balochistan. The ones that are here are also operating in local languages and since I am from a Punjabi background, I cannot report in those languages. On my own YouTube channel, I am independent to report at any time and in any language I want.
Describe the most challenging task you had to face in the field and how were you able to overcome it?
Before joining this field, I was very conscious about my voice and this was the biggest challenge for me to overcome. However, my friends and family believed in me and encouraged me to make my talent my biggest strength. I still get a lot of negative comments about the way I speak but I’m not bothered by them anymore. The amount of appreciation I receive overshadows all the unnecessary criticism.
Who is your ideal in the field?
My ideal in the field of sports journalism is none other than Zainab Abbas, the favourite female sports journalist of Pakistan. She and her passion about sports and representing the country nationally and internationally inspired me to do the same and I wish to join Pakistan Super League (PSL) like her one day.
Where do you see journalism for women in Balochistan in the next five years?
A few years back, we would see girls struggling for even the basic education in Pakistan. However, this is gradually changing for us. Women are excelling in every field, especially in the Media. Universities who offer Media Studies witness an increasing enrolment of female student each year. And in the coming years, women will be neck and neck with men in this field.
A message for the youth.
I want to urge the youth to please always keep working hard towards your goals and that is the only way to achieve success.