Q: What is the state of press freedom in your country?
SM: I can’t say we have that freedom. Right now we are still struggling to get it. There’s even a bill in government – which is a freedom of information bill – which was withdrawn sometime in 2008, and we hope that it’s going to be sent back to parliament for approval. And this bill is going to allow us to access information…from government officials – even from ministries – to compel the government to give us information. …We are hoping that can be done.
Q: What are the biggest challenges for women journalists in your country?
SM: I think there still are challenges – some challenges – which they are still facing. For instance, if you want to access information from certain people, sometimes it’s not that easy simply because you are a woman. Maybe this goes back to culture. …They are not willing to speak to you on certain information because that is considered a taboo.
But that is just part of the challenge. But I would like to believe that we are getting somewhere since the world is changing, and it’s not like the way it used to be in the past. …But discrimination does exist on who to give information to. And this also we see in the newsroom, where maybe some assignments are given to males, not to women. I don’t know why it’s like that. Maybe they feel women cannot do better than their male counterparts.
Q: How do you and other women journalists face these challenges?
SM: I think that women, for instance in my country, they have proved that they can do it. So that is why now we can even have female photographers for print. We also have females for video, which to me – I can see that we are moving somewhere. There are assignments where maybe sometime back women maybe couldn’t manage to do them. Now, women are able to succeed and do those assignments just like their male counterparts. …Women have shown they have continued to be committed. They are working hard to prove themselves that they are able to do it, and that they are not inferior in any way.