When talking about women in Pakistan a lot of confusion starts to arise, why? Because in Pakistan there are two main perspectives, those who agree with women getting formal education and making an honest living within her household. The second perspective is opposing, and arguable is the opinion of the majority of the people of Pakistan. Who believe that the women’s place is at home, and she should tend to her children and husband’s needs instead of educating herself.
I am here to bring a different perspective, acknowledging that Pakistan has a long way to go when it comes to gender equality, however there have been women who have broken the rules and made a name for themselves.
Malala Yousafzai a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize winner laureate. Born July 12, 1997. Malala is just 17 years old, already she was chosen as One of Time Magazine, 25 Most influential Teens in 2014. In 2013, she was a recipient of the Clinton Global Citizen Award. Malala Yousafzai grazed the cover of Forbes Magazine in 2014 ‘Special Philanthropy Issue known as Best In Class: The Visionaries Reimaging Our Children’s Future.’ Mala has been very adament about women empowerment, and emphasis of providing equal education rights for all women and children of Pakistani.
Ayesha Farooq 27 years old, born August 24, 1987 is the first and only female Pakistani fighter pilot. She is quoted as saying, “My mother raised me to be strong, to a point that if one day, I was left alone, I would be able to take care of myself.” And so she did. She noted a trend referenced in the Economic Times interview as stating, that there was a growing number of women who have joined the Pakistan’s defense forces in recent years as attitude towards women changes. She argues that women are becoming more aware of those rights and signing up with the air force which is another instrumental tool in the women empowerment.
Maria Umar is an entrepreneur who started the first All-female virtual start-up called Women’s Digital League. This company provides digital administrative support services to customers worldwide. The women in her company are composed of at home mothers and women. Who can operate the business needs without leaving their homes thanks to the advances in technology. Some of their services include research, database mangement, event management and much more. Maria Umar has be received by the world as an international change maker (http://www.changemakers.com/users/maria-umar-0). Women’s Digital League has been featured on Mashable, Forbes, and Google business. As of recent, Maria Umar rendered her time and resources to the training of over 200 women on various online work skills.
There is a long list of successful women from Pakistan. The issue being discussed here is why can’t women get to their goals easily in comparison to men? Why can’t we have gender equality in Pakistan? Why can’t we move freely and have the same rights afforded to all human beings similar to the rest of the world? Education does not mean giving up on religious beliefs or traditional values, a balance must exist, and this is what I would like to explore further through my personal experience.
I want to tell you about my story how difficult it was to get the job and complete my educational studies. Similarly to other young Pakistani women, I was married at the age of 18 right after high school. Immediately my in-laws insisted that I discontinued my educational path. Their belief was my high school diploma was enough and my priorities should be tending to my home and raising a family. I agreed but issued a warning that I refused to lie to my parents if they inquired about my studies. My Husband and his parents were shocked, they promised at the time of my wedding that they would not have an objection against my studies, but they did anyway.
After my father learned of this news he insisted that my in-laws including my husband allow me to complete my degree, and so that’s was how I started my journey. After my father’s passing I eventually had to relocate from my in-laws and husband’s home.
Having concern about my well-being, a good friend told me to join overseas Pakistan’s school, so I joined. The education I received there helped shape the future of my professional career and created opportunities for me and my children. After leaving my husband’s home, I moved in with my mother who was a widow and we did not have any male figures in the family to protect us. But we managed and defended ourselves, and stayed away from confrontation. We focused our energy on the children, and making sure I completed my education degree.
With the love and support of my children and mother. I continued to advance my education accreditation and earned my Bachelors degree, in addition received admission to Masters Degree program in Education. I desperately wanted to pay it forward, I wanted to create an opportunity to teach other women and children in Pakistan and help them achieve their dreams.
Alhmdolilah I am much stronger now mentally, than I was when I was 18 years old girl, due to the attainment of education. It is vital, and I reccommend for women and young girls, to take this opportunity to educate themselves.
I know it is a difficult journey which we must take, but we will never get anywhere if we do not standup for ourselves and become well versed on how we can defend ourselves, as well as contribute to the growth of our country.
In a perfect world, Pakistan should create laws and policies to initiate the following:
- Gender Equality in education and occupation
- Equal and Fair opportunity for basic necessities, riding bikes, driving a car
- More Women empowerment Programs, teaching advance skills to help compete with developed countries.
- Widespread programs for women and children to get education, certification, and training.
- Open more educational institution for all of Pakistan
- Vocational training for young girls to learn skills that will help them in the future.
- Government must make it compulsory for all girls to get education in vocational training
- Resolve the main issue, convenience for women to move around
- Laws that protect the environment in which we reside, by making it suitable for young girls and women to work. and learn, without fear of harassment and resentment from in-laws or extended families.
- Security and Liberty for Single Women and Mothers who want to work, educate, and support themselves.
I am proud to be a lady but really like to have more couragei n skills to help other suffering poor ladies. May God Bless us all and save us, Amin.
By Tehreem Kashif
International Women’s Right, Contributor