Women of the world

Published: March 7, 2011
March 8, International Women’s Day, has, since 1909, brought women from across the world together.

March 8, International Women’s Day, has, since 1909, brought women from across the world together.

March 8, International Women’s Day, has, since 1909, brought women from across the world together — reminding them that no matter where they live or what they do, their concerns and problems are often similar ones. Discrimination, after all, is still suffered in one form or the other by women almost everywhere in the world and violence directed against women is not restricted to any particular group or country. While women have come a long way in terms of the careers open to them and have succeeded in all but a handful of nations in obtaining the right to adult franchise, they still face all kinds of restrictions on civil rights, dress, conduct, education and the right to choose marriage partners.

In Pakistan, of course, the majority of women who make up half the country’s population of some 180 million people, will go through March 8 without realising its significance. The limitation on education for girls is one of the key factors that stand in their way. While enrolment at schools has gone up over the decades, today less than 40 per cent of women in the country are literate. In areas such as Fata, this figure drops to around three percent, or even lower according to some NGOs who work to promote empowerment for women in the region. This lack of learning has a profound impact on many areas of life, including empowerment, reproductive health and economic rights. Talibisation has, of course, added to the difficulties many women face. The hold of ‘tradition’, which promotes practices such as child marriage or the handing over of women to settle a dispute, refuses to recede.

Despite the oppression many face, women in Pakistan have taken many strides forward, excelling in academics, in sports and in courage. A significant number has fought back from the most difficult circumstances to seek justice for themselves after falling victim to crime. Their examples inspire others to do the same and to try and throw off the darkness that still envelops too many women in the country.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • Rehman Bhatti
    Mar 8, 2011 - 1:39AM

    I agree, whereas women have progressed in 20th century all over the western world; their rights for equality is part of the early 21st centiry, Pkakistan has not followed that trend. Islam gives many rights to women and we must follow these teachings.Recommend

  • SharifL
    Mar 8, 2011 - 11:23AM

    Equality of women cannot be achieved with nice ediotorials, when the macho attitudes are part of the culture. Men can get away with anything and women must shut up and be ordered to serve men. Two aspects are important. First is that they are free to go wherever they want to go without permision from men and the employers must be asked to employ women as a certain % of work force. It does not have to be 50%, but anything above 10 would be acceptable, for a start. Only economic empowerment frees human beings. My mother talked to me with more respect when I brought home my first salary. That is the bottom line.
    I am not sure why men would balk at the idea of helping women. The men I know are happy to espouse the feminist cause because they see equality as something that fundamentally appeals to their sense of fair play. I think the vast majority of younger men are feminists: men who believe without equivocation that women should be treated equally and without fear or favour. Just honest, equal and decent fairness is what it is about. The men who are able to advocate for this are the men who are doing honest work in whatever endeavour in which they are engaged I would guess…. It is probably in part an attitude commensurate with their own confidence in themselves. Recommend

  • Aasia Sohail Mian
    Mar 8, 2011 - 2:21PM

    The women in Pakistan and even in world are dominated by men. Mental and physical torture is common in all societies. In under developed countries women are neither aware of their rights nor treated as equal to men. In Pakistan 33 % of assembly constitutes of women but no fruitful legislation has been made and very little has been done for them. What ever has been legislated has not been implemented. Today, a woman works as hard as a man. She not work outside her home but also performs domestic duties. She has to look after her parents when she is unmarried, she has to work for her husband and children after marriage. The women are under paid despite hard work. In China,Mao Ze Dong demanded equal pay for equal working to bring the women at par with men. However, in Pakistan and other countries like Pakistan and even in West the women are not treated equally. They are sexually harassed at their working places whether offices or fields. There are laws for women protection but their implementation is far away. In the remote areas of Pakistan, the women are treated as animals, they are sold, exchanged and killed just for nothing. They have no right to speak, no justice is provided to them and most important of all is they are not aware of their rights.They are not allowed to get education, not allowed to give their opinion and are not allowed to give their suggestion or choose any thing for them. The time has come that proper and conclusive legislation should be done and the laws made as a result of it, should be strictly observed and implemented.Recommend

  • SharifL
    Mar 8, 2011 - 3:25PM

    @Aasia Sohail Mian:
    Good input. I agree. women need equality in PakistanRecommend

  • Aasia Sohail Mian
    Mar 8, 2011 - 7:53PM


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