I want to live in a Pakistan where women support women

I could not have become a successful working mother if it wasn't for my mother-in-law, my mother, my sisters...

Amna Usman December 23, 2013
I once had dreams of building a successful career as a legal professional. I pursued this dream all the way up to studying for the Bar-entrance-examination. However, our society expects a girl to get married as soon as she crosses puberty - before she can make any serious effort to pursue a career.

Eventually, I too had to succumb to pressure and tied the knot half expecting a career shift from the court room to the kitchen.

Initially, things worked like a charm and I was blessed with a home that I could proudly term my ‘heaven’. Yet I couldn't curb my desire to get out there and work; to have a distinct identity of my own. Isn't it one of the most difficult things to do - to kill your dreams and not give yourself a chance to see them come true?

Thankfully, I was blessed with the support of a husband who understood my need to be more than a homemaker, and a son who gave me immense perspective on life and more strength than I could have otherwise gathered.

Unfortunately, for the majority of working women, killing their dreams becomes inevitable after marriage. Despite living in times of progressive change, women are expected to stay at home, raise children and manage household chores. Women receive very little help from their in-laws, especially the female members, who could share such responsibilities.

For most women, it becomes almost impossible to pursue a career alongside family life. Working mothers further worry about leaving their children back at home and this obviously takes a toll on their performance.

As a working woman, I struggle with all the above mentioned issues on a daily basis, and the only way I managed to balance work and family was with the assistance of all the women in my life who made sure that I fulfilled my dream.

I leave home for work early in the day and return quite late in the evening knowing that my mother-in-law is taking care of my son. Most importantly, she give me confidence that I won’t be labelled as a ‘bad mother’ or an ‘irresponsible woman’ who is only focused on her career with no sense of responsibility towards family.

When I need support, encouragement and guidance, I have my own mother, sisters and sisters-in-law constantly by my side. This is how I can concentrate on my work while away from my husband and son.

In my experience, this is the best gift any female member of the family can give to women who need support to pursue their careers.  If all women in every household could help each other overcome the barriers erected by society -- which rigidly assigns all household affairs to women -- many of us would be able to have successful professional lives.

We usually hear people casually stating,
“Aurat hee aurat ki dushman ha”

(A woman’s enemy is always a woman)

Can’t we prove it wrong by helping one another move ahead in life so people say,
“Aurat hee aurat ki madad kartee hai”

(only a woman can help another woman)

It’s a fact that leaving children with paternal and maternal grandmothers and aunts has multiple benefits for children in terms of education. This eliminates the possibility of children going astray while mothers are at work.

If for any reason families are not living in the same house, town or city, why can’t female friends make an arrangement whereby four to five friends leave their children with one of their friends who has made a life decision not to work or pursue a career?

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t promote the idea of women only concentrating on their careers, in fact, I am against it. Work-life balance is of utmost necessity and if any one of them is being neglected, then this is a matter of grave concern.

All I am saying is that a woman should also have the liberty of having a professional life if she so desires and I know it can be done but only with the help of other women.

God has created us in such a way that we cannot live entirely on our own. We constantly need the support of others, be it emotional or physical. This is why we have families to love, cherish and depend on.

In my opinion, the best gift from one woman to another is support and encouragement which allows her to dream and enrich her life, personally as well as professionally.

I have it and I know it’s worth a thousand jewels.
Amna Usman A Barrister-at-Law from Lincoln's Inn she is passionately pursuing the legal profession.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


a mother | 10 years ago | Reply Dear Amna, i couldnt agree more with you had i read this post an year back. Like you, i too had dreams and had a professional career until i got married and had to leave my job. After few months, I started to get depressed and decided to pursue further studies. My husband had been supportive and I started my graduation with the aim to enter corporate world while my son was 6 month old. He would stay at my mothers during my classes and both my parents would take really good care of him. However, after one year, I have realised no matter how hard I try, this balance cannot be achieved. My son, who has turned 2 now, has developed certain habits that I would not want in him, just because I was away for a while. Also my parents are getting older and I cannot put more burden on them this way. I cannot take a chance to trust a maid or babysitter as well. I am often depressed with the fact that I did not give him his due attention. My point is, leaving your child with grandparents is neither a sustainable solution nor good for his upbringing as the grandparents have different stakes and would rather shower your child with endless love than disciplining them. Only a mother can.
Nobody | 10 years ago That is the same argument men use when they are trying to find a justification for being lazy ("only mothers can do such and such.") My father was a HUGE part of my life and my sister's life growing up. My mother couldn't have done it without him and I don't find it acceptable or fair to expect only mothers to give up everything and have only one identity in life. No disrespect to your ow your choice. But I am inclined to disagree with you last statement. A father can and should be an equally active part of his child's life, allowing the mother more time to herself to pursue her own goals as well as taking care of her child. It's a two person job and leaving the burden entirely on the mother is not an acceptable way to live in my not so humble opinion. Cheers.
Jawad | 10 years ago | Reply Change is inevitable and it will come to us eventually. But when, well this is still a question mark no doubt. Living in US I realized that not only do they give or at least constantly try to give women their God given rights they also see the value for their society in women working and then this value further becomes the driving force behind the will to give women their due rights. However somehow somewhere we got this all wrong. I agree with the author that women should help other women. Additionally I will say be little rebellious.
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