Friday, March 8, 2013

Admiring She-Roes

Ms. Aazadi Fateh Muhammad

SUSI 2012 - Pakistan 

 “For living a Life, I really fight Hard”… an ordinary woman’s expression stated decades ago in the Poetry of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, an accurate description that how far great efforts are placed by the modern women to achieve their rights, as well. Women, like men are equally human, living and full of life, but unfortunately, they have to struggle doubly hard to prove their identity and status in society. They are continuously discouraged by an assortment of general biases, underestimated as weak and meek creatures. This is not only predicament of developing societies, but these discriminatory mind sets and behaviors can be easily seen in so called ultra modern world as well, where even a woman has no specific title for her other than ‘Women’, which means Wife of Men.  Means treating them as a property of men is not a fashion of eastern societies just.
A Village Woman in Sindh Province
  Gender based biases and violence, like charity, begins at home. Our family structures and socialization patterns generally support male members. Since childhood family members are directed to behave and live on gender lines. Not only in Islam but the constitution and laws of Pakistan award women their all basic rights and status in society.
   Faces of Pakistani woman represent millions of identities, tales and fragments of society at the same time. Pakistani women, no matter living in urban or rural setups, are fighting at many stages to prove their own individuality and status. However, lack of education, poor awareness, social ignorance and male dominating social patterns are main hindrances in the way of her courage and success.
    Aurat Foundation (A local NGO) reports that violence against women decreased by 6.41 percent in 2010 compared to figure from 2009, the report revealed that 8,000 cases were reported across the country in 2010 against 8,548 cases in 2009. Still serious measures are required to introduce new concrete laws and their implementation. According to Aurat Foundation report 7,733 cases of violence against women including hurt, torture, burning, rape, domestic violence, threat to violence and more were reported in the media but very few of them were answered positively. Most part of this crime has not been named by the law nor recognized by the state so it goes unpunished. In this scenario Harassment at work places bill and property rights of women law are music for the ears.  
  Population Reference Bureau Washington issued a data sheet in 2011 which shows 59% female (Age 15 to 24) literacy rate in Pakistan and in total female population of 91.6 millions only 22% of them are active in economy. Means more than half percent of women population are not being utilized and ultimately have less opportunities and exposure to work.
   We are celebrating Pakistani Women Day on March 8 across the country with the International World, for acknowledging women achievements and raising awareness to protect their rights. This day is celebrated in the memory of those women who raised their voice against discriminatory and draconian laws of a dictator in early 80s. What is hidden and can be seen in a face of Pakistani woman? Let’s see below how intellectuals’ educationists and public representatives act in response towards this question.
    A Pakistani woman has her own rightful identity. Pakistani women are beautiful, intelligent and hold capability of doing anything against all odds. Pakistani society in general and specially the religious groups are reluctant to give them their rightful place. Most of them think that they should be confined to their homes; are meant only for producing male children and taking care of family is what primary aim of their lives, said Bari Awan, an active member of War against Rape since 90s.
Asma Jilani Jahangir is a leading Pakistani lawyer, advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, President Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan and human rights activist, who works both in Pakistan and internationally to prevent the persecution of religious minorities, women, and exploitation of children.
     Prof. Shahida Kazi (Head, department of Media Sciences at Institute of Business Management, Karachi) expressed her views as saying that Pakistani woman has so many different faces. “I will say that for the most part, because of centuries of suppression the Pakistani woman is one who has learnt to be cunning, scheming and manipulative in order to survive. Of course, there are exceptions but for the most part we are not straightforward or open even when there is no need to be crafty. And this goes for all, educated, uneducated, high class, low class, young, and old. Status of women in Pakistan differs according to circumstances. However I think all women of every class are basically nothing but commodities, generally taken as the property of their men”.
    In the opinion of Dr. Zareen Abbasi (Professor at a Local University), she  believes that Pakistani women are courageous, loyal, hardworking, sincere and leading at every walk of life in society  
excluding  all that she is capable for,  her status is still not recognized at home nor  even at working places.
    Rasool Bux Sarang working as Assistant Manager Media, at Aga Khan University elaborated his point of view as, being a professional career woman, worker or a house wife, a Pakistani woman is an example of a dedicated family member whose joys, sorrows, successes or failures are usually linked to her family, but who understands the larger role she can play in improving society. Majority of Pakistani women are dependent and powerless - still struggling for their individual identities. Modern communication sources are playing a good role in creating the awareness that a woman with a more productive role in society can benefit not only to her family but also the larger society.

     A young graduate Khushboo Rafique, responded to the question picked a rural woman as a model while defining a Pakistani woman; she has the real face of Pakistan. In my opinion, a Pakistani woman is a devoting and hard working woman who dedicates her own life to her family.
    Pakistani society is basically a male-dominating society where status of a woman is not satisfactory. Obsolete customs and traditions, lack of religious knowledge and education are the main causes. Men are given more favor and attention in most of the families against their female counterparts. The real gender discrimination thus starts from homes. Women are considered not more than property in rural areas particularly the condition in urban areas is far better but women in urban areas also suffer a lot of problems in different paths of life.

kiran baloch
Kiran Baloch is the record holder of the highest individual score in the international game. She scored 242 in the first cricket Test against the West Indies
     In patriarchal societies like Pakistan, women are habituated to consent to men as the superior human being. However awareness, education and struggle for life may change the picture in general. History is full of enlightening examples of Great women leaders, artists, scientists, and other professional women from all walks of life, which have inspired other women to overcome social obstacles.
    Need of the time is to focus on specific change leading communication campaigns who can actually bring up some differences in the existing mind sets and social patterns. Covering more than half of the country population, they deserve to be nourished and appreciated by the society without any discrimination.  As Maya Angelou (an African American Poetess) said: It is equally important to recognize and celebrate our she-roes just like the he-roes. Let’s celebrate power and beauty of feminity not only on March 8, but onwards.

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