Empowered or Enslaved?

empowere-or-enslaved

One of my main reasons for starting to write after a long gap of about 25 years was because I thought that the

opinion and perception of the Pakistani woman was grossly incorrect.

It gives me great pain when I travel for work and people are taken aback and without exception ask me if I am an

exception amongst my people as their conception of the Pakistani woman is some sort of slave chained to a stove

catering to the whims of a patriarchal society and serving a brood of ignorant family members with Neanderthal like

qualities.

I started to write again because I wanted people to realize that us Pakistani women contrary to popular belief are

extremely empowered and end up in matriarchal roles in our family structures and rule our households with an

iron stronghold like our mothers and mothers in law before us.

My reason for writing today is because I have felt for the longest time that even though we lead much empowered

lives and end up in empowered roles generally we ourselves have quite the opposite view about ourselves.

For example it gives me an equal amount of agony when I see women all around me so wrongly perceiving our own

roles in our country/culture/society and living lives in a state of utter depression and feelings of enslavement.

We have been reared and geared to think of ourselves as lesser beings which is so not a part of any thing Islamic and

is actually a gross violation of the Muslim code which clearly defines a woman as a being much equal to a man.

The influence of Hinduism on our culture influenced us in always being led to believe that we are somehow

competing to achieve equality with our counterparts. However that is not the case for us where our religion firmly

tells us that we are one half of a partnership crafted by Allah Almighty and created as equals.

(The definition of our roles and its implications in modern times is a subject I will touch upon soon in one of my

upcoming blogs.)

Add to that our Gora complex which has been a gift to us by the departing British and we are totally hardwired into

empowered 3believing that the

European and

especially the

American societies

are evolved,

empowered, literate

and civilized and

therefore every trend

set by them is “oh so

correct” and when we

follow in their

footsteps we are living life the way it should be lived.

A big Lamao to that!

And finally nowadays our generation of parents and the female Pakistani millennials are so geared to fight that

imaginary battle of our inferiority that all that is being thought about is studying as hard as possible and securing the

best job possible and then fighting for our rights in the work place as hard as possible so we can challenge the notion

of being powerless entities.

Coming back to the original thread of the post, is it possible that we have been so wired to think of ourselves as

beings who are treated as inferior that we fail to see the flip side of the coin which is an altogether different story?

For just a moment let us lose sight of the fact that we are Pakistani women and therefore enslaved, treated as

unequal and generally discriminated against and start looking around to see the number of women around us who

have excelled at what they do and made great choices in their lives making everyone around them proud.

Aren’t there a great number of very talented women leading multinational conglomerates and other big businesses

in Pakistan and actually doing a great job of it?

Isn’t Pakistan full of enterprising ladies working from homes and offices around the Country and making quite a

significant amount of money? Haven’t they been around for the longest time?

Are not our fields, houses and now our offices full of the fairer sex working to earn a living?

Haven’t they always been around? The villages and the lower income tiers of society have always seen women

working alongside the men and being major if not equal breadwinners for their households and now thanks to the

girls becoming more educated don’t you see them get jobs quicker than men in workplaces?

Isn’t there an influx of girls now joining the Pakistani Armed Forces and isn’t it true that the majority of them come

from the so called backward provinces of KPK and Baluchistan?

Let’s reverse gears and talk about the ladies who don’t work. Aren’t our mothers and grandmothers the actual driving

forces of their households and the key decision makers on how we lead our lives and the makers of the key policies

empowerement 3that defines our lives whether we live in a joint family system or in

separate units?

Are not visiting or resident Aunts given the royal treatment and

deferred to at every turn and catered to, to ensure that they are not

offended?

Are not dependent females sheltered in our houses with no

questions asked and isn’t this responsibility passed on to be

shouldered by every new patriarch without any question of it being

shunned?

Are not daughters and sisters invested in monetarily by the male members of the family with financial preparations

for them to start their life (wedding, dowry etc.) taking precedence over all other important financial

responsibilities?

Of course there are women who are oppressed in their households and repressed in general over the course of their

lives, but is that an issue that is faced by Pakistani women only?

Is this discrimination reserved for our women only? Sure we have our fair share of honor killings and acid attacks

but are statistically the crimes against our women more than crimes against their western counterparts?

Under the glamour of civilization are they really more empowered then we here in Pakistan are?

Beneath the shadow of the glamour of the Gora Society are they really leading lives without harassment, oppression

and discrimination? If your answer to this question is yes than do check out the stats on crimes against women in

these societies.

What is empowerment? Being able to marry whom you like? Wear what you like? Date whom you like? Work how

emoweredyou like?

Please do take a look around you and go back a couple of generation and browse through the family skeletons and do

ask yourself one question.

Is freedom really the name of doing exactly what we like without accountability as it is perceived in the Gorra

Society?

And is repression really the name of being warned, cautioned and restrained against making unwise choices that

come to haunt us later on in life?

To me I live in a Country that has helped shape me in the independent and empowered woman I consider myself to

be. Where ever I look I see any large amount of women leading much more empowered lives than me.

Whether they are stay at home moms, or working from home business-women, or working in offices, I see a milieu of

great independent women leading extraordinary lives.

My only concern is that quite a few of them truly do not realize the extent of their freedom and empowerment and

are only looking at the glass half empty yearning for a lifestyle whose pitfalls we cannot even begin to imagine.

 

empowered 1

 

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12 Comments

  • Reply Fehmina November 16, 2017 at 10:00 PM

    A brilliant effort J Ara to touch a subject so important. We are still engulfed in some taboos but awareness is also being raised by people like you. But we do need to realize that a very large number of women are not even aware that they have any rights and can exercise them too. Our religion has given so many rights to a woman which unfortunately is not known to a majority of them.
    A good article J Ara keep it up !

    • Reply tvinkal November 19, 2017 at 3:27 AM

      Thank you fehmina Jee. As an accomplished mother, wife, daughter and successful professional you have achieved the balance that we aim for. Your encouragement is really apprecited

  • Reply MA Kazi November 12, 2017 at 2:35 PM

    Ms. Jahan Ara’s article, “Empowered or Enslaved”, has rightly expressed the views about women and its role in a Pakistani society. Ms. Ara perception about women has been rightly portrayed a women of well to do class of the society. However, a women who lives in congested slums doesn’t catered the simple right of decision-making and even they start working at low paid jobs at very early age to survive. Because of low socioeconomic conditions, there are large number of female drop-outs from schools. I don’t want to go in details here but I found a lot of disparities between women of two social economic strata. But let me appreciate Ms. Ara who brought llight on some positive aspects of women which requires to be replicated in societies where women is not enjoying the same benefits.
    Warm regards,
    MA Kazi

    • Reply tvinkal November 12, 2017 at 8:48 PM

      Thank you for your insight Kazi Sahab.However arent the women from the lower stratas probabaly and generally the only bread earners of their families with the men just living off of them? In that scenario isnt it a paradigm shift in perception that will make them realize their own power to say no to injustice?
      Food for thought.

  • Reply Farah qureshi November 12, 2017 at 10:10 AM

    Brilliant !!!

  • Reply Dr Iqbal November 12, 2017 at 9:59 AM

    You have narrated an issue which cannot be ignored now because the women of today are playing a significant role in the development of society. Quaid-e-Azam said in a speech I 1944, “No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you”

    • Reply tvinkal November 12, 2017 at 8:58 PM

      And it have to be a concentrated effort to make us the Pakistan that Jinnah envisioned Doc

  • Reply Ali November 12, 2017 at 9:14 AM

    Excellent article, well thought out and Considering that currently this struggle is ongoing in every house where women are seeking ‘their rights’ it is a very refreshing perspective.

    • Reply tvinkal November 12, 2017 at 9:00 PM

      It is my endevour that no matter how small the effort we all must try to make one for a better tomorrow for our kids.

  • Reply Arshad Nadeem November 12, 2017 at 1:51 AM

    The theme of the blog is very pertinent especially in today’s socio-economic condition of Pakistan. One point worth mentioning is the lack of realization on part of Pakistani women about the extent of empowerment they enjoy. There is a dire need to create awareness for the same.

    • Reply tvinkal November 12, 2017 at 2:00 AM

      Thank you Arshad for your encouraging comments, My thoughts exactly!

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    Tvinkal is Pakistan’s first and foremost lifestyle blog. We write about Fashion Collection, Personal Style, Beauty Tips, Food Recipies, Movie Reviews, Places & Travelling, Reflections, Social Style Diary, People and anything and everything that catches our fancy. It’s about us!