10 situations which highlight why educating women is vital in Pakistan

Uneducated women stuff their genitals with cloth to avoid getting pregnant, educated women would use contraceptives.

Faiza Iqbal December 13, 2013
Being the daughter of a surgeon, and being a lawyer myself, I hear and read stories everyday about how certain mishaps which have occurred could have been avoided with the simple proviso: education. 

The government needs to encourage the right of women to be educated.

Listed below are 10 real-life situations where education would have prevented unfortunate outcomes.

1)  A woman who is encouraged to abort a daughter or is killed or divorced upon producing daughters. If she was educated, the woman would know that the gender of a baby is decided by the male sperm and not by a woman’s eggs. This is basic genetics.

2)  A woman who lets her children play around flying kites, not realising that this can be perilous for them. Common sense dictates to keep children away from such areas to avoid accidents.

3)  A woman who doesn’t take care of her personal hygiene. An educated woman would know that hygiene is an essential component of a child’s upbringing. Washing hands after using the toilet can easily prevent diseases such as cholera and stomach infections.

4)  A woman who thinks the polio virus sterilises her. An educated woman would know very well that polio can be a debilitating disease for her children and measures must be taken to curb it from spreading.  She would understand that the World Health Organisation (WHO) is doing its utmost to eradicate this disease.

5)  A woman who doesn’t know how to read or write and gives medication to her children, which is more than the amount stated. This can often result in severe allergic reactions in children and sometimes even death due to overdosing.

6)  A woman who doesn’t wish to rely on the marvels of modern medicine, fearing it to be some sort of foreign conspiracy and relies on hakims or herbal medicines instead to heal what actually requires medical attention; for example, remedying diabetes with herbal medication, when insulin is urgently required.

7)  A woman whose rights to property are taken away from her by signing legal documents under duress or without the appropriate legal advice, resulting in her losing access to what she rightfully owns.

8)  A woman who doesn’t check her Nikahnama (marriage contract) to see if the section which allows her to seek a Khula (Islamic divorce) has been ticked or not. If this section isn’t ticked then the woman has no legal right to seek a divorce unless her husband divorces her first. This is a right of seminal importance and deprived to many women out of sheer ignorance.

9)  A woman who is told that her marriage can only take place if her family provides a heavy dowry.  She would know that this is a cultural requirement and holds no position in Islam.

10)  A woman who stuffs her genitals with cloth to avoid getting pregnant again, resulting in internal infections. An educated woman would be aware of contraceptive choices available to her and would take active steps to plan her family accordingly.

These are just a few of the medico-legal issues women faced by uneducated women. There is a whole other world of dependency and reliance that women place on men when they don’t have the benefits of education.

The aim here is to raise awareness of how closed minded a woman without education can become.

Some people consider women’s education to be superfluous and pointless but such situations, which continue to occur on a daily basis, provide a distinct and poignant reason why every woman should be educated.

There is a famous quote by Brigham Hill which states
“You educate a man, you educate a man.  You educate a woman, you educate a generation”

Let’s hope our future generations are in safe hands.
Faiza Iqbal A law graduate from King's College, London Nottingham Law School. Having worked at Mandviwalla & Zafar as an Associate, she now writes freelance articles and is trying to qualify as a barrister in Canada.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


zaeryn | 10 years ago | Reply why there are no laws that give the women in Pakistan the same right as men?
Any Muslim Man | 10 years ago | Reply Dear Ms. Iqbal: As a lawyer I am sure you understand that the concept of "causality" versus "correlation". The issues you described do not have direct causality with "literacy" except for #5 and #7 and #8. They are more directly related with the issue of "awareness" that can be imparted by having a credible support group of wonderful, highly educated women like yourself, involved in public service and support. Unfortunately, Islam as it is practiced in Pakistan has failed the women of Pakistan. Because our mosques and the Friday khutbas, instead of being the greatest source of education and awareness of the masses against misogynistic cultural and social practices, have only furthered the bigotry against women in general. Having said that, NO one would (and should) disagree with the need for more literacy for all genders (not just women). Yet at the same time cultural taboos and unjust social traditions can be changed by having a very strong Women's Rights movement in Pakistan which lobbies for legislation that forces a change in the Nikahnama document, so (for example) the right of a woman to "khula" becomes her fundamental right as a human being and should never be taken away by a check mark, because it is inhuman as well as un-Islamic. We need to understand how democracy works. It requires good, educated, smart people to work and support each other to improve the overall quality of life within the society. In some cases mass awareness and outreach campaigns have successfully been conducted to address similar issues. Women in the villages are reached and educated and made aware of similar problems. Legally protected support groups are created and provided funds and supports through the state and local governments. Democracy is about special interests coming together to improve the quality of life within the society. It is about time that we create a very powerful and influential women's rights lobby in Pakistan, with a single large unified voting bloc. There is no reason that women of Pakistan could not come together and reverse the laws as well as change the dominant "bury-your-daughter" culture mindset. It will take time, but has been done in other cultures and societies and there is no reason, Pakistani women will not be able to do the same. Please understand that even education of women is not a simple task. The same cultural roadblocks that currently suppress the rights of women under the false pretext of "Islamic edicts" stand in the way of women's education as well. Remember Malala?! Her assassins shot an 11-year old in the head and her classmates for seeking her constitutional "right." And still a big percentage of this country somehow thinks that those murderers were "justified". Therefore, the greater challenge is to bring about a culture change within the society. Only educated, enlightened women, which are blessed are in the position to bring the much needed social and cultural change. Please understand that culture has PRIMACY over everything within a society. Understand that notion and you will understand the root cause of all problems faced by the women of Pakistan. In that extent, Pakistan is absolutely no different from India or any such society in the world. So let's all work together to bring about a cultural change and these issues will be eradicated in no time. Lastly, everyone is a cynic. So I hope you understand that I am neither critical nor cynical about your article, as that attitude never accomplishes anything worthwhile. Thank you for your article!
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