In our society women are considered multipurpose, i.e., their roles are largely determined by social, religious and cultural factors. Since our childhood, we have been generally taught to believe in strict binaries of male and female genders rights and duties, which of course overweighed the male counterparts. The man is generally considered the food provider while the lady has been responsible for the overall maintenance of home, family and upbringing of kids. A harsh reality yet true, as of date that decision making of most of the family matters is the solo birth right of males and women are mostly deprived of taking active part in decision making process of the overall family mechanism. This is the common tagline of a typical Pakistani lower- and middle-class family. The women are generally not welcome to participate on equal basis not only in family matters but also in raising the financial status of the family, which could lead to a better socio-economic regime.
Let’s talk Economics! Women in Pakistan are half of the population, yet they constitute one-fourth of the total labor-force. This means that massive human resources are presently untapped, neither contributing to economic development of the nation, nor to enhance their own status in society. Pakistan belongs to those few developing nations where labor force participation (LFP) of women is one of the lowest in world and less than world average of 51.2%. On the contrary some countries like China and some regions like East Asia has LFP of women as high as 67.7% and 63.1% respectively. By LFP of women it means the percentage of women currently working as ratio of total women capable of employment in the population.
Apart from work force participation, gender imbalance vis-a-vis women exist in other domains as well. For instance, women of Pakistan make up a major portion of poverty-stricken segment and this poverty exists not only in terms of financial resources but access to facilities and entrepreneurial resources too. Similarly, discrimination exists towards women in accessing education facilities, training opportunities and social services. There is visible gender inequality in literacy rate of Pakistan. Literacy in women of age 10 and above is 47.1% as compared to 70.7% in males. Similarly at all level of education the participation of women in labor force is less than males, indicating some unseen barriers from society and prevalent gender discrimination in labor market. In Pakistan the case is same as all over the world where human capital value of women is considered less than men which force them to concentrate in informal sectors of labor market.
The above was just the economics! If we talk about the social environment of our family system, a common reality is that a typical Pakistani woman has no real power in decision making, except on social media jokes! There is no doubt that a strong mother makes a strong man! As a society we must realize that a decisive woman will up bring future leaders who will form the society.
The frenzy is that women among women are not treated fairly. Apart from gender inequality, our Pakistani society has also been invaded unconsciously by the neighbor’s culture, mainly attributed by the mainstream entertainment media with a flurry of hypothetical joint family system drama serials. These drama serials are mostly directed to the women discriminating other women in the face of ‘in-laws’ friction’ mostly! An example, a daughter of same age is given much more importance than a daughter-in-law, whereas the daughter-in-law is mostly shown as the victim to all the evils. Wives are made fun of; sisters are not and so on. The same had been slowly poisoning our society more than ever, especially since the mid-90s. Nowadays, the script remains the same, however another topic of extra marital affairs is added to the list of Pakistani Drama industry. Careful observation reveals that most of the scripts are written, concurred and directed by women.
To conclude, men will respect women only when women will respect themselves. Nothing is for free, it’s earned. The solution is simple strong education for girls, mothers educating their sons to respect their wives, treating daughters-in-law as daughters, fair delegation of authority to empower women at home and many other traits which are also the hallmark of our Islamic teachings. Fruits will ripen soon! A strong woman is what we need for our generations.
The transition in mainstream media should kick-off by showing women as strong character who not only build strong families in the face of mothers, wives and daughters but also achieve great success in professional careers along with men. They are the binding force of the family, a shoulder to men being their support in every facet. They are companions, not rivals. The Government must also initiate and impose a mandatory education ceiling for girls, especially personality building programs, so these young nodes eventually raise heroes.
Great dreams always start with a miniscule idea, let’s not just whisper, lets speak it! – LA