Rabiah Jamil Beg
Championing gender equality, peace and social change through the media.
Rabiah Jamil Beg is a leading television journalist working in the field as a correspondent and producer for the largest private television network of Pakistan, GEO. She is the only woman who accepted the challenge of reporting live from the conflict and crisis areas of Baluchistan, interior of Sindh province, Southern Punjab and even the Khyber Pakhtunkhawa district of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. In these places Rabiah has covered insurgencies, brewing and active conflicts, and humanitarian crises. Through sheer persistence and determination she broke into the traditionally male space of reporting on extortion, kidnapping, ransoms and the daily killings that occur in Karachi, becoming the first female crime reporter on Pakistani television in early 2000.
Rabiah’s main strength has been her resilience and professionalism. Through innovative script writing, presentation and investigative reporting skills, she has managed to champion the causes of gender, peace and social behavior change. By covering various humanitarian, conflicts and social issues hampering the progress of women in a conservative society like Pakistan, she has been instrumental in bringing to the debate the missing female perspective, which for long has never been the part of national discourse.
It was due to her nature of never backing away from a challenge, that Rabiah insisted, despite familial pressure, on appearing in a documentary to tell others about the ordeal that was her fraudulent marriage. Resilient and determined, Rabiah stated “I have done this to help other parents save their girls from becoming a victim of a sham marriage like mine. It’s a social stigma which I have faced and got away with but many cannot.” Following the documentary, she recalled the scores of phone calls, emails and even face to face interactions from parents and girls thanking her for courage and awareness building act. For Rabiah, opening up people’s eyes was a good enough reason for her appearance in the documentary, to forewarn every girl and parent to “stand up for your rights and don’t get carried away by fakes while formalizing a matrimonial relationship”.
Her courageous advocacy, along with her work reporting from conflict zones, has empowered many female journalists into entering media-related fields that they were previously excluded from. Rabiah helped to instill trust in women reporters (and television news managers and editors) in Pakistan and a realization that there is no role too dangerous or too emotionally heavy for women. It is precisely Rabiah’s confidence and audacity to speak up and bravely report crimes and violence that has made her such an inspirational figure for young Pakistani women.