Synergyzer: Imagine a young Shanaz Ramzi gazing at the stars, whispering her dreams to the moon. What were those whispered desires? What if those dreams took flight, leading her on an extraordinary adventure?

Shanaz Ramzi: I would think my dreams as a young girl, and for that matter, even today, would be to travel the world and explore new places, cultures, and cuisines. So, my dreams would have been taking flight quite literally, escorting me to new regions and amazing adventures on the way!
While I enjoy all the perks of being a woman, I do believe in gender equality – equal pay, equal rights, et al – and feel one doesn’t need to be branded a feminist to expect that.

Synergyzer: To what extent has the experience of female journalists in Pakistan shifted from your early career vantage point?

Shanaz Ramzi: The experience for our female journalists is quite different today, for various reasons. When I started my career as a journalist, there were very few women in this field. They had to prove themselves in a male-dominated environment, and the beat they were generally given was normally cultural or social rather than political or investigative. However, there are no holds barred now, and you see female journalists at the forefront everywhere.

Synergyzer: Given the limitations of literacy, how can journalists in Pakistan maximize the impact of their work towards informing the public and holding power accountable, even if the masses aren’t directly reached?

Shanaz Ramzi: Fortunately or unfortunately, the dynamics have changed completely today. The masses are no longer dependent on the written word for their information. Gone are the days when people would huddle together on the sidewalk and eagerly listen to the one relatively educated member amongst them read out loud the day’s newspaper to them to keep them abreast with the times. Now, journalists are providing information in real-time to the masses, so much so that even the electronic media cannot keep pace with the information overload. Hence, journalists are adapting and moving with the times to do their job, but through different media.

However, well-researched reports, analyses, and op-eds still belong to the domain of newspapers and magazines. Fortunately, electronic media picks up on these and invites journalists to share their views on TV, where the masses can see and hear them and then form their own informed opinions.

Synergyzer: Does being at the top give you a sense of power or a sense of responsibility?

Shanaz Ramzi: I have never regarded myself as being ‘at the top’, but even if I were, I would like to think that I would never let it go to my head. We owe a responsibility to our country for all that it has given us, and we need to pay back in the same coin. I have always tried to use my position, experience, contacts, and knowledge to help the community at large, and hopefully will continue to do so. And I believe in the power of karma. What goes around, comes around.

Synergyzer: To improve the situation for women in Pakistan, do men need to embrace feminism, or do women need to become feminists?

Shanaz Ramzi: Neither. I am sorry if what l am about to say sets people back, but I don’t believe in feminism in the way it is being touted today; I am old school in this respect
– I like my door being opened for me by a gentleman and my chair being pulled for me.
There is nothing wrong with a woman being shown the respect she deserves by a man. I don’t feel that for the situation to improve for women, either of the genders needs to play the feminism card.

I feel as a female journalist, I have had an advantage over my male counterparts because, instinctively, males look upon their gender with suspicion, whereas they are more willing to trust women, so doors open more easily for us. Having said that, and while I enjoy all the perks of being a woman, I do believe in gender equality – equal pay, equal rights et al – and feel one doesn’t need to be branded a feminist to expect that.

Synergyzer: Since you belong to the PR industry as well, how do you handle negative publicity, negative men, and, even worse, negative women while maintaining a positive approach to managing negative publicity?

Shanaz Ramzi: By and large, l ignore negative publicity – the more you give it importance, the more you will give it life, and the same goes for negative men, or for that matter, women. I am inherently a positive person, and I feel the energy you exude is the energy you attract, so I keep happy, surround myself with like-minded people, and smile all the time. It works!

Synergyzer: Is journalism genuinely not free in Pakistan? Despite the widespread calls for freedom of speech, when observing news channels and social media platforms, does it seem like they possess excessive freedom?

Shanaz Ramzi: Well, we have gone through those dark periods in our journalistic lives when newspapers used to be censored so drastically that there would be blank spaces in the front pages of leading newspapers where news would be forcefully deleted just before going into print. Thankfully, those days have gone to the extent that, yes, sometimes one feels media houses and platforms now have excessive freedom, often recklessly so.

But, despite that, even today, there is a long list of missing persons, which includes many journalists, and a large number continue to lose their lives for speaking out, so one cannot stress enough the importance of giving journalists their safe space and voice.

Synergyzer: On International Women’s Day, what message would you like to convey to all women regarding the pursuit of their passions, drawing inspiration from your success in both the corporate world and journalism?

Shanaz Ramzi: I go by a few mantras that have always held me in good stead throughout my life, and I would like to share these with all women on the occasion of International Women’s Day. The first is that Life is too short to be Ordinary – so don’t be afraid to dream big, and try and excel in everything you do, no matter how insignificant a task you may deem it. The other is If Opportunity Knocks, Open the Door – or someone else will! And then leave it to your Maker – you won’t regret it!

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Afifa J. Maniar, the Karachi School of Art's design maestro, transforms words into creative works of art. With 25 years of editorial experience across 8 magazines, she runs the world at Synergyzer Magazine as the Editor. Her creativity genius has graced brands like Zellbury, DAWN Media Group, SMASH, Dalda, and IAL Saatchi & Saatchi. Her words and life choices are transformative, however the latter is questionable.