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WOMEN – Doormats or Goddesses?

Women empowerment is a very controversial topic worldwide. However, one thing by principle is true – Women have equal rights to men. In Pakistan, things have turned around a huge deal since the last 10 years. More women get empowered day by day. But, is that enough? Aren’t there still thousands of women not having a right to choose their own husband or pursue a career? In 2012 there was a 62 % increase in domestic violence against women, 89 % increase in acid throwing, 144 % increase in burning of women and 11 % increase in the murder of women as compared to 2011. 2014 has not seen a decline in these figures (SOURCE: Aurat Foundation figures (‘Gender Based Violence Policy Research & Capacity Building (GB-PRCB)’ program)). The root cause of all of this is the fact that women are not aware of their rights. They are not aware of the fact that it is okay to pursue what they want!

A mother is the most important role model in every person’s life as she is with him/her since birth. Therefore to encourage a healthier mindset for each individual, mothers or women in general need to have healthier mindsets themselves. This can only happen when they realize their rights and fight for them. Below I have proposed some initiatives that can resolve the root problem that exists.

The first and most important initiative that has to be taken is in peer settings. Women who realize what their rights are need to inform other women about this. So for example, if you are sitting in a gathering of other women and someone says that she does not work because it will make her husband unhappy, you should talk about the fact that it is good to keep in mind what her husband wants but what she wants is equally important. So, instead of staying silent and adhering to the flow of conversation you have to make her aware that she has an equal say in the matter. Martin Luther King said that “In the end what will hurt the most are not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends”. Don’t stay silent! Speak up!

Secondly, Social marketing can play a huge role to make this revolution happen. A viral campaign can be initiated showing women as pilots, army officials, scientists, truck drivers, physicians and much more – something that women can never be perceived as in this society. The common stereotype that women are fragile creatures needs to be broken and perceptions need to be changed. It’s just societal pressure that limits us so what we need to do is break through this perception!

Thirdly, the most effective solution to this will be to educate our women and encourage them to pursue careers -to be more independent! All roots of their concerns occur because of their dependency on their families. Being independent will not only help them with their self-esteem but also make them self-sufficient in times of hardship. People in Pakistan should be encouraged and motivated with good reasoning to educate their daughters, wives and sisters. A common excuse for people not to educate their daughters, which is true in some cases. However, when it comes to their sons they don’t hesitate to enroll them in schools. Education is not only important for males but for females as well. It is important for women to know their rights, to handle themselves when they are treated unfairly, to know when matters can be taken to the authorities and mostly to have a sense of what is right and what is wrong for them. Education can achieve this.

Women are a valuable asset that can be used to help Pakistan’s economy as well as the mental well-being of the society. Firstly, when women are more independent there will be more respect for them in the society. When this happens women can have better self-esteem and can become good role models for their children leading to a more positive younger generation.  Secondly, being more independent will ensure their financial and mental well-being in times of trouble. This can help them to move forward and stand up on their own feet leading to a more balanced and stable society. Thirdly, more educated women can find out more job opportunities or create job opportunities for themselves by finding gaps in the job market. This can also boost the employment and increase the number of females in the workforce. Most importantly, if there are more women who are independent and educated, they can pass on the knowledge that they’ve gained to the future generations leading to a brighter tomorrow and a happier community. So tell me ‘women of Pakistan’, Are you with me?

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