Empowered Women Where?
Resolves are important and that is where the ambitions are rooted. Being a woman in Pakistan is a bit different from anywhere else in the world. The challenges that we face are also somewhat diverse. Being and becoming an empowered woman is one such challenge that I find daunting as inequality, injustice and mistreatment of our women are rampant. This is particularly true among the uneducated.
Women empowerment was one of the fundamental founding principles of the nation but the concept never really took root in our society until very late. The situation is not as pleasant in Pakistan as I wish it to be.
What We Face
Women in Pakistan face physical and mental abuse. They are the victims of honour killing and acid attacks. Occasionally treated no better than an item for sale in the practice of vatta satta. This is a cruel custom prevalent in rural areas where an underage girl is married to older man for some financial favour.
To me, an empowered woman means having equal social and educational opportunities, legal rights and entrepreneurial opportunities and having a respectful and safe work environment. Here are some of the most serious challenges women face in Pakistan related to empowerment.
Dis-Empowering Social Norms
Curse of Dowry:
The atrocious custom of Jahez (dowry) has been, sadly, picked up by Pakistani families as a one of respect and a status symbol. It is, actually, a Hindu custom. A bride is takes many luxurious and expensive gifts to the groom’s family because she, as a woman, is seen as a burden and not worthy of the man’s attention. Thus, the gifts are presented as compensation for the inconvenience of having to take care of her!
This is not for me. I promise myself to be an empowered woman. I will have an effect on society starting here. I will certainly not agree to be married into a family where the first thing they ask is how much Jahez I will bring. I am worth more than that.
I am an empowered woman. No one can buy me with money, gifts or foreign visas. I am not for sale.
Lack of Educational Opportunities:
Another obstacle women face is the social and cultural restriction of female education. The male elders of my community believe that a woman, once educated, becomes impertinent, immoral and unfaithful. However, I firmly believe education brings woman empowerment. Just as a diamond that, when polished reveals its precious faucets. I wish to be an empowered woman. I will educate myself as much as I can and rise to shine!
I promise myself the freedom of being who I want to be! I promise myself, to strive to be well-educated. I promise myself that I will not conform to the twisted ideals of others, about my height, skin and weight should be. The media bombards me with skin whitening and body enhancing products. I will never bear complexes because of the darker shade of my skin. I will never be influenced by commercials that portray woman as helpless, worried frantically trying to impress potential marriage proposals or their families by cooking the perfect meal.
I Am Worthy
To me, a woman is not worthy of attention solely based on the food she cooks or how she looks. I promise myself that I will free my mind and soul from these labels and boxes the media tries to shut me in.
In 2015, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women included its first Pakistani female, the inspirational Muniba Mazari. Like her, as a Pakistani woman, I will do everything possible to help myself and other women, overcome obstacles blocking us from being empowered women!
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