I had no idea about women empowerment till I began college where my History professor told me that if you have to understand and measure the civilization of a given society, you must analyze how it treat its women.
Routine activities in my life and in my surroundings shaped my mind and manufactured my opinion about women and their empowerment. I am perplexed by the attitude of women towards their counterparts. Office going ladies make home-makers feel low. Before we delve deep, let me recall an unusual state of affairs which I witnessed during my school days. Most of our female teachers would pay more attention to boys. This was something unacceptable. We never could understand why? We could not even dare to question this state of affairs. It was considered an offence. This write-up may not go down well with so many ‘Sanfi Naazuk’ souls, as it talks about the tyranny we face from our own gender.
We always blame men for discrimination and cry hoarse for equal rights little did we know that our rights are trampled by our own womenfolk. For example, mothers-in-law make the lives of their daughters-in-law hell and torture them for not delivering a baby boy. They know it is not a woman’s fault but still they traumatize and blame women for everything amiss.
I believe the word feminism is itself discriminatory. Who has coined this term and why? Trust me, this has outraged our respect and we have been reduced to be slaves and we always use this begging bowl and demand rights not meant for us. Men and women have been assigned their duties and whenever we try to intrude in each other’s domain, it becomes unnatural and creates uncountable problems.
We may not voice them but we continue to suffer silently. Islam has equipped us with every right we deserve but we crossed the limits’ and invited trouble. The crack in our society is only due to women demanding something not meant for them.
In this 21st century, our Syed dynasties don’t marry their children in other castes. They believe inter-caste marriage is a bad omen for their kids as they belong to the superior caste. How? Should not this archaic practice be stopped? Isn’t it a self-imposed restriction and a silly argument? How is Syed or Peerzada superior to Dar or Yatoo? Why these obsolete benchmarks are still in vogue?
Women empowerment is a myth. You may or may not like, it is a sheer exploitation of women. They don’t understand it, they continue to devalue themselves. I am not asking women to confine themselves to four walls of their homes but do what they are supposed to do not what is forced upon them.
We still hear about crimes against women and we still watch news about domestic violence. But is it only our patriarchal culture which should be blamed? No, I think it should not be blamed for the whole scenario because, in my opinion, patriarchal culture of our society is carried out by women. We are partners in crime. A husband will never torture his wife without his mother consent. How long will we brush this biter reality under the carpet?
Women are the carriers of this culture, they along with men on board can make a change but it does not happen because a woman feels jealous of her tribe. She does not want her to grow. Today, we have a good number of countries and states that are headed by women. Feminists would have taken sigh of relief while seeing these women in power but the irony is that these women have never taken such steps in empowering other women. For instance, in Pakistan, women did not get much focus during Benazir’s era as it got in Parvez Musharraf regime.
One of the famous cases which happened in Pakistan was Mukhtara Mai’s case. Mukhtara Mai was raped in 2006 as a result of decree issued by village Shoura. The attention which she got was only due to efforts of Parvez Musharraf’s government. She got justice. Her rapists were rewarded punishment which was very difficult in that milieu. Apart from this, lots of schemes were introduced for women empowerment, from education scholarships to skill development programs. Musharraf left no stone unturned for women empowerment. If there would have been female premier during that time I don’t think Mukhtara Mai would have obtained justice. Women can’t empower women. They have never been. When the both will work together only then it is possible to empower women and maintain gender equality in our society.
—The author holds a Masters in International Relations from the Islamic University of Science and Technology, Awantipora. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org