being has certain indisputable rights that must be delivered in a way so
that they have a positive effect on human lives enabling them to live
better and more fulfilling lives.
The world is globalizing very rapidly and scientific innovations have emerged as a phenomenon for development.
Although the flow of information is increasing very rapidly, this change has affected a very small segment of the society.
Women in Pakistan are stricken with different type of violence and
this been happening for a long period. Despite tall claims no healthy
efforts are coming in to consideration.
The obvious reason is that the Pakistani women are unaware about
their rights and which is why they are prone to violence every so often.
Despite the parliament had approved laws with regards to women’s
protection, they are not in the know about them. Interestingly, out
educated lot of the women are also not equipped with such information.
Pakistani women are also not aware with the rights, which our
religion Islam has given to them, particularly a unique position of
respect and honour.
Hence, those who use religion and misplaced conservatism to exploit women can only be countered if this awareness is spread.
In order to educate women about their rights that the constitution
and the religion have granted them, the government must expand its role
in this regard.
It should develop a plan of outreach to our women so they have awareness about their rights and responsibilities as well.
Another major obstacle in this way is lack of education, as a
majority of exploited women live in rural areas are not equipped with
education. In order to spread awareness about their rights, the
government will have to work through a proper channel.
It is vital to mention here that that women in cities also prone to
exploitation. Women both from the lower and upper class face many
problems due to our rapidly changing urban landscape.
We will have to make our women more strong with a tendency to
withstand different calamities by making them aware about their rights.
There are more chances that we can eliminate the violence from the society when our women will be educated.
Pakistani human rights activists hold candles as they shout slogans
during a rally in Lahore on March 7, 2011, on the eve of International
Women's Day. The last two decades have seen a lot of improvements in
women’s rights in Pakistan: gain of political representation,
integration into the labor force, and putting all kinds of
discrimination into the public spotlight. (Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images)
The last two decades have seen big improvements in women’s rights in
Pakistan: gains in political representation, integration of women into
the labor force, and all kinds of discrimination have been put in the
public spotlight. The aim now, say activists, is to enhance women’s
image more broadly to see these gains realized at the ground level of
Pakistani society—the thing they say is the weakest point now.
“The greatest achievement is that the women’s issue has been put on
the national agenda,” says Nighat Khan, executive director of the
feminist organization ASR Resource Center, and dean at the Institute of
Women’s Studies in Lahore.
“It is so to the point that no political party, even the most right
wing, can fight the elections without mentioning women in their
manifesto. Because even the right wing says, ‘When we come to power, we
will give them rights, we will give education.’ It doesn’t mean they do
it, but it means that they have to address it,” says Khan.
Khan says that while in the 1980s and 1990s there were radical
movements opposing giving rights to women, now they are more reformist.
Moreover, the current coalition government is very progressive, and
media and society are very active in promoting women’s rights as well.
Traditionally, women and girls have been viewed as inferior in the
patriarchal society of Pakistan—whereas boys are still viewed as a
divine gift. Not only will boys carry the family name, but they will
also look after the parents in time of need. Girls, by contrast, are to
be married off at a younger age with a heavy dowry. They are therefore
seen as a burden on parents and are often subjected to abuse. This view
is most prevalent in rural Pakistan, but still exists in urban centers
Yet despite strong Islamic beliefs about gender roles, women in
Pakistan today hold some of the highest positions in power: Benazir
Bhutto paved the way as the first woman to head a Muslim state, twice at
that; she was followed by current Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar,
Speaker of the National Assembly Fehmida Mirza, and the 60 female
members in the 342-seat Parliament; there are also women as army
generals and air force pilots.
Extra Mile to Walk
While women have certainly come far in Pakistan, there is still an extra mile to walk.
“Women are very much in the higher echelons of decision making. But
on the other hand, it doesn’t translate into the actual ground level and
therefore there is a disconnection between what we say on top and what
we do in the reality below,” says Khan.
According to Khan, Pakistanis are still caught in cultures,
traditions, systems, and religious interpretations that don’t allow
women’s rights to receive wider implementation.
“So our weakness is the impact of all of this,” she says.
For example, although the constitution says education is mandatory
for all without differentiating between boys and girls, girls still
don’t have an equal chance to go to school.
“There is discrimination in society, not by law. The law and the
constitution are good, but culture, tradition, and religion hold them
back,” says Khan.
But these hindrances have given Pakistani women even more impetus to validate their social status.
The United Nations Women in partnership with a countrywide network of
women’s organizations called the EVAWG Alliance launched the One
Million Signatures Campaign to end violence against women in Pakistan.
The campaign finished successfully on Aug. 14 with the signature of
its 1 millionth supporter—the country’s President Asif Ali Zardari. The
campaign mobilized 450,000 community members and social media users,
along with at least 1,500 Pakistani women leaders.
Earlier this month, U.N. Women Pakistan established the Civil Society
Advisory Group in Pakistan. Out of 16 members, 15 are women. The only
man in the group is Irfan Ali, president of the Human Rights Commission
for Social Justice and Peace, in Quetta.
In an online interview, Ali said there are currently many public
campaigns to raise awareness for the idea that women are equally capable
and important as men.
A recent advertisement on Pakistani GEO TV features a girl telling
her story: her parents had abandoned her, but she struggles, and
eventually gets into a very good position. She then writes a letter to
her father, saying, “If you didn’t leave me and took care of me, today
you would have been very proud of me with where I am standing today.”
“It is sad that in our society boys are considered a blessing. It is a fact,” commented Ali.
“Whenever I communicate with youth groups and teachers, students, I
strongly emphasize on the same message, that girls are as equal, as
important and as essential part of our society as men. So why then
discriminate [against] them? Why take them as inferior? It’s wrong!
Minds need to be changed. It will take a lot of time, a lot of efforts,
and lot energy to do that.”
Child rights activist Amir Murtaza, says electronic media has been
effective at raising the profile of women and children’s rights issues.
“The positive role of media creates some confidence among the
vulnerable groups, notably women,” wrote Murtaza via email from a rural
area in Pakistan’s Sindh Province, where he is working on a children’s
rights protection project.
Murtaza shared his joy that over the last decade, education has been
used as a vehicle to help reduce gender-based discrimination in big
“I am therefore pleased to state that our girls are getting higher
education and on the basis of their talent they are working in many
fields. I think every girl who is getting higher education or who is
professionally working is a success story.”
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