Breaking the stereotype about Muslim women, Firdaus Jahan has chosen a career in one of the tricky cum risky fields. She is emerging as the first lady journalist of Muslim Community in the Malegaon city, Maharashtra. She received the honour for her remarkable work in 2012 by Mamko Bank. In a conversation with SM Fasiullah, she talks about her career choice, challenges of working as a budding lady journalist, and the family support she receives for her work.
It’s a known fact that journalism is a tricky area, and not really a cozy job for a woman. Yet you dare to taste of it. What inspired you for that?
Firdaus: Yes, I knew it’s difficult. Girls generally do not opt career in fields like these. Muslim girls hardly think about journalism as their career. Therefore there is a very less presence of Muslim women journalists. That’s why I have chosen it, with hope that I may set example for Muslim girls of the city to follow. Typical problem with Malegaon Muslim girls is that they rarely go for any career other than teaching – D.Ed. and B.Ed.
What are the challenges that you came across so far in your journalism career?
Firdaus: Unfortunately, when I enrolled in a journalism course, home-sickness and health troubled me for quite some time. However I managed to attend roughly 60% of classes. Despite some bitter on-campus experiences, I scored enough to make it to second top position in the department. I found journalism to be a competitive field; one needs to work hard to become resourceful and relevant.
What’s one thing that you like most about journalism?
Firdaus: “Pen is mightier than the sword” is one quote that has always inspired and motivated me. Pen can play a vital role in forming and influencing public opinion. I love writing, through which I can touch the hearts of people. I can act like representative of people in need by writing about the problems they are facing in the society. In addition, I can help them in taking their grievances to the concerned government office. Writing helps me in speaking out my heart to the world as well. Also, post Malegaon blasts I strongly felt the need to speak out my view on things that matter.
What effect Malegaon blasts has on locals and you in particular?
Firdaus: Blasts not only blow out things but also shatter peace, and makes commoners insecure. After Malegaon blasts, security forces picked up many innocent civilians during their hunt for terrorists. Those poor aam aadmis could not speak for themselves due to sheer fear and shock. Then I realized there are many poor innocent commoners who need help of literate citizens. Being journalist I think I can do my bit for the welfare of deprived people.
What contribution or role does your family members and friends have in your success?
Firdaus: My family and friends have always stood by me. They were there when I needed their support. My parents love me and take care of me well – in both personal and professional aspects. I want to thank my brother Faizan, two of my sisters and my buddy Zohra for their love and unconditional support. Zohra says: “Us waqt tak hamen koi nahi hara sakta, jab tak ham khud se na haar jayen” [Nobody can defeat you unless you are defeated by yourself].
What are your thoughts about women empowerment?
Firdaus: I believe in all-round development of women. First and foremost thing is education. The more you are educated, the better you can serve your family, community and society. One important thing is that one should not forget the responsibilities that come with empowerment. Girls should explore all careers. Nothing is impossible. They can do it, as I am doing!