“No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you; we are victims of evil customs. It is a crime against humanity that our women are shut up within the four walls of the houses as prisoners.” Mr. Jinnah
Commonly it is said that woman means “wife of man”. And, somehow, a lot of women also appreciate this depiction, by accepting men’s servitude. Our society is such that there’s a lot of respect for women, as wife, mother, sister and daughter. Our society holds women dear to heart, but their social role is limited to the whims and wishes of the menfolk.
It is said too many times that the social scenario has changed, and women of Pakistan are more empowered now, but, in reality, still the Pakistani people deeply follow the old traditions and biases in every aspect of life, which causes hindrances for women, who are routinely discriminated against in every sphere of life.
It is even now a common practice of seeing women bringing cup of tea for men, after returning from work, washing dishes, cleaning cloths, and preparing food, and so on.
“Too many women in too many countries speak the same language, of silence…” Hillary Clinton
On average, in any home where women are working, their income is also important to the well-being of the home and the living standards. Where it is not a question of money, it is generally possible to employ someone for the work in the house. So when we speak of a traditional role of a woman being responsible for the efficient running of her home, it is something we need to be aware of as an additional expectation made from her.
Pakistan is an independent Islamic country. Islam itself says that men and women have equal rights. Then, why girls are condition to remain engaged in domestic work, instead of being sent to schools and colleges and universities, or why are they mentally and physically abused, and forced into marriages?
The society always talks about how the girls and women dress, they object to her working, her job, her choice of profession, her relationships, her interactions; everything women do or want to do is objected to and criticized.
Successful and independent women are subjected to undue criticism and scrutiny, or even ridiculed, while less successful men roam with an airy of arrogance, boosted by the society’s patronage and bias. At times everyone in the society wants to actively seek some fault in successful women, to quench the thirst of their ego, compounded by jealousy and envy.
The society seems to believe that the life of a woman is that of subordination, and servitude. When she is young her father decides for her on matters ranging from whether she will get any education, to the all-important matters of whom she would marry. After marriage, her husband and her in-laws get hold of her reins and decides matters on her behalf: like shall she or shall she not have a child every year, or whether she would produce only boys or whether she can seek independent employment and so on. Finally when she becomes old and her husband gets weak or may have gone already, it is her son who decide her fate in the declining years of her life which is the most emotional and sensitive portion of her life. As if this is not enough, the whole society acts as a browbeating her in to obedience. Thus, the word “women” in Pakistan is synonymous with “endurance”. She is simply forced to accept certain bare facts of life.
One of the biggest truths of our society is that women are dubbed as liars. They are considered to be unreliable, vulnerable, weak and unworthy of trust. Such myopic view about the ‘fair sex’ is weaved through centuries of indoctrination, which depicts women as weak, and men as strong. The reality is that these notions are products of social hierarchies, rather than being facts of life.
It goes without saying that such notions need to be crushed and such attitudes needs to be shunned and discouraged once and for all. Women, like men, are respectable, knowledgeable, talented, courageous, truthful, honest and capable of leadership.
Our society’s attitude towards women needs to change, if we are to progress and establish a just and livable society. Women’s contributions and creativity should be encouraged and appreciated, and they should be acknowledged and accepted as equal citizens of the state and the society.