Thu 06 Aug 2015, 09:15
Celebrate Women's month with some fierce females.
Babita Sharma, presenter of Newsday on BBC World News, gives her insights on working in breaking news and on current issues affecting women’s lives today.
What are the big stories you have reported on recently?
The Hong Kong protests in 2014 was a big story for BBC World News and I was fortunate enough to go and cover it. I was there for a couple of weeks in September and then went back in December for the tail end of the protests as well. It was important as it was the first time you’d seen tens of thousands on the streets of Hong Kong calling for democracy in a way that had never been done before. It was an extraordinary time to be there, and to see it first-hand and be involved in the breaking news.
What issues do you see affecting women today?
When I was in India covering the elections in 2014, what was really apparent was that a lot of the issues people were voting on became issues that affected women in a way that had never been done before. India in particular has become very vocal [on women’s issues] following a lot of rape cases that had angered society and women feel that they finally want to get their voices heard.
It was extraordinary to speak to women there that were saying, ‘now is the time to act because we can’t have situations carry on as they have been.’ But they also felt confident in a way that they hadn’t before. The younger women in India struck me because they feel empowered, they want to get their voices heard and they’re doing it in an intelligent, educated way and also on social media, so that’s a really exciting time in India at the moment.
Who inspires you?
Talking about India again, I can’t say there was one woman who stood out for me. I met so many incredible women from across the spectrum, young and old, who were really inspiring in terms of their hopes and achievements and what they wanted for society in India. I think that really came across when we were interviewing them during the India elections. As a British Indian going back to the roots of my parents, I am seeing an India that has developed in a very different way to the one my mother experienced when she first left. There is a completely different change of society for Indian women today and I think we should all celebrate that.
What tips would you give to a wannabe female journalist?
Persevere, persevere, persevere. Knock on doors. Knock on as many doors as you can. I think the biggest piece of advice I could give is work experience. I know that from my journey, offering to work for free in some places and having enthusiasm - you need it, you will get knockbacks - will help you get your first break. If you are passionate about journalism and you are willing to work all kinds of unsociable hours then I think you’ll make it.
What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
Do more exercise. Be healthier. Don’t party as much. I think that’s what I would say to myself.
Watch Babita Sharma on BBC World News, DStv channel 400.