Few Pakistani women have left a trail of achievements in professions that were strictly considered ‘for men’. Sheen Farrukh is one such woman who broke all ‘norms’ making a mark in a profession that was not considered proper for women – journalism. At the time she entered the media, women didn’t work! The few who did venture out of the safety of their homes did so because they had to support their families. Working women were not the first choice for marriage.
Journalism was a man’s job where women were not welcome. However, such attitudes did not deter women like Sheen Farrukh who seemed to like to break the norms and prove themselves by taking up challenges. And she proved to be a tough force to reckon with.
Sheen Farrukh was a trail-blazer in the true sense of the word and her first achievement was that she became thefirst-ever woman editor of a weekly in Pakistan. Even today, Pakistan’s media only has a handful of women who hold decision-making positions.
However, Sheen Farrukh proved she was an extraordinary woman as she expertly steered her team as city editor for Daily Mashriq, Karachi in what were unchartered waters for woman journalists.
Farrukh held aMaster’s degree in Geography from the University of Punjab, Lahore(1957 – 1959). She would have taken a different path had Fate not turned her towards journalism. And her long-term relationship with the media started when she began contributingarticles to the eveninger Star and Akhbar-i-Khawateenas a freelance journalist.
Later, she joined Akhbar-i-Khawateen as assistant editor and Daily Mashriq as city editor. Despite all her achievements, Sheen Farrukh always thought there was a lot of work that needed to be done in the media.
Speaking at an event in Karachi last year,organized by Uks Research Centre commemorating International Women’s Day, Sheen Farrukh said that the problems she faced during her wonderful journey as a journalist helped her become stronger as a professional and a woman. She said there were some very good women journalists in the English newspapers at the time, but not so many in the Urdu print media and she was focused on developing content that would be noticed. She joked that her colleagues mostly male probably felt uncomfortable with her around, but she was here to stay.
Sheen Farrukh was a great journalist and editor, but she was also a passionate advocate for peace. She had a keen eye and observed others very closely and wrote about their lives in such an interesting way that you felt as if you knew them. And she wrote about them in her books. So far eight of her books have been published.
As if that was not enough, Sheen Farrukh was also the President and Editor of Inter Press Communication;a member ofthe Board of Directors, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education & Research (PILER); an active member of the Karachi Press Club,Arts Council of Pakistan, and Women Action Forum.
Sadly, all good things come to an end. And Pakistani media lost a great journalist and activist on June 17, 2021. However, Sheen Farrukh may have exited this mortal world but she has left behind a legacy for other journalists, especially women journalists. All her life she strived and managed to carve out more freedom and space for others to be able to work in a better environment. Her bravery, energy, and passion will continue to shine on in her words and books.
Farewell, for now, Sheen Farrukh.