Empowerment from Within for Pakistani Women

In a society deeply rooted in misogyny and patriarchy, it is controversial for women to retrieve their basic rights. There is great deal of societal norms which impede women’s rights and make it difficult to attain empowerment from external institutions including society, government, and law. The word empowerment is meaningless in Pakistan due to the discouraging environment for women to contribute to society through economics, education, health, and politics. They are confined to a limited set of duties within the socially entrenched boundaries which must be deemed respectable. The lack of empowerment of women in Pakistan stems from intrinsic or innate problems within the nation… and many of the issues that these women are facing are extremely complex. It is essential that the women in Pakistan learn to thrive and advocate in creating a space in their society where they can prosper. The women must begin to internalize the idea that they have to build self-confidence in proportion to where they feel empowered internally. It should be the utmost importance for Pakistani women to equip themselves with both education and knowledge. The intrinsic empowerment is contingent with knowledge and education outside the sphere of the education system in Pakistan.

The condition of women in Pakistan is a deplorable one; they face discrimination at all levels and are subject to varying forms of violence. Their situation is further intensified by the dogmatic practices of Pakistani patriarchy that often have religious sanctions. The Pakistani state machinery, directly or indirectly, pampers the perpetrators of violence against women, leading to further atrocities. The women’s inclusion in society is the solution to all those problems Pakistan is faced with today.

The empowerment of women and girls is critical to developing stable, democratic societies, recognizing human rights, domestic and international peace and security, growing vibrant market economics, solving health and education challenges, and ensuring sustainable development. Moreover, the utilization of half of the country’s population is the essence to developing our country.

The shift of balance is the essence of time, and more gender balanced societies in role and responsibilities are extremely crucial to the modern world. Empowered women can optimize the society and create their space in society. Pakistan is in the top bottom countries regarding women’s inclusion in Pakistani society. In The Global Gender Gap report by World Economic Forum, Pakistan is constantly ranked in the top bottom: in 2016, 143rd out of 144 countries, in 2015, 144th out of 155 countries, in 2014, 141st out of 142 countries. This report includes the evaluation of different factors such as education, health, politics, etc.

According to the latest statistics, the current female population in Pakistan is 49.2 %; whereas women participation in the labor force is only 28%. Clearly, this ratio is incredibly low. This clearly indicates that Pakistan’s economic sufferings are the result of restraining women in socio-economic participation. Women assimilation in all walks of life is the challenge that needs topmost priority.

The word “empowerment” is glorified in Pakistan and can be found in non-governmental organizations (NGOs) proposals, reports, and other publications dependent on funding. Organizations use this word throughout to secure funds, donations, and projects that serve their best interests, which is often monetary. Women and girls living in rural areas are still vulnerable to male dominance. International-NGOs and NGOs efforts to women’s empowerment are limited to accessible demographics and the extension to rural areas are faced with limitless problems comprising culture, financial capacity, government interests.

Women’s in empowerment in Pakistan comes from within, the idea that women can change, starts from them. Islam and the Constitution of Pakistan allow women to have equal rights: The Holy Quran says that “And for women are rights over men similar to those of men over women” (2:228), The Constitution of Pakistan states in article 9, 25, and 34 accordingly say that “security of person – no person shall be deprived of live or liberty saves in accordance with law.” “All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law. There shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex.”

In the modern compatible and interrelated world, it’s imperative to work on building intellectual curiosity and internalizing the knowledge required to empower you. The foremost is education (both formal and informal) which can give you basic literacy. Education is the most powerful tool to build and develop yourself internally, get your hands on basic skills such as writing, reading etc., start reading books outside of the school curriculum, read the constitution of Pakistan with emphasis on women protection and rights. Read about your religion, understand your religion so your religious values will not be hijacked. With more knowledge comes more understanding of society and laws. Read about the important issues of Pakistan or province or the area you are living in, know your rights as a woman. All the information will frame you as having “well informed” mind, well-informed minds thrive for better. The construction of knowledge will empower you intrinsically. The confidence derived from knowledge and information will put you on the path to reach higher in every field you pursue, the education should be the priority.

The inclusion of women in societies comes with greater responsibilities to adhere to, education and awareness will fulfill that compartment. Most women in Pakistan are left behind because of limited skills and required information to keep up with societal machinery. They are assigned with domestic chores because of the stereotype that they cannot work outside and lack the required skills necessary to complete the task.

In the emerging trend of girls’ education in Pakistan, it’s the opportunity for all girls to get an education and pursue their lives in the direction they want. Empowerment will also create a lot of problems in the family as well as in society. Combating and solving those problems are the way to women’s liberation. Making a difference in your life, family and society will be inevitably the need. Education and empowerment will provide you with the solutions that guarantee the change at minimum in your life and family. More and more girls are shattering the societal boundaries progressing forward in Pakistan, that’s the way to go. Intrinsic empowerment is connected to extrinsic empowerment; when you feel powerful internally, it will bind you to look for the external factor to enhance your personality such as finding like friends, joining a social cause, and developing curiosity etc.

In conclusion, women have power and they should feel powerful. If they feel empowered, it would optimize the ways for women to participate, contribute and engage in all walks of life. They are the ones to uplift and navigate Pakistan towards progress. To re-establish society and to reassure future generations that it is going to be okay; and that they have the ability to be whatever they want to be because of the guaranteed rights they have. It is time for the women in Pakistan to take back their lives out of the hands of society and become their own rulers of their achievements, dreams and goals.

However, women in Pakistan need to empower themselves in order to fully engage. Empower yourself with education, information, skills, and self-confidence. That is intrinsic empowerment and it starts from you. “In the future, women, rather than men, will be the ones to change the world” ~ Malala Yousafzai

Yousaf Khan

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