International Women’s Day: Celebrating the Lives of Pakistani Women

Posted on March 8, 2008
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Photo of the Day, Society, Women
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Adil Najam

As a rule, we try not to repeat posts too often. Sometimes, we feel that the message is either pertinent again or that the original may not have been seen by a new crop of readership. I am reposting this picture and this post, originally posted on this date last year, because the message is even more pertinent today than it was a year ago, and because I feel like I need to say it again.

For Pakistan, this has again been a year of struggles as well as achievements for women. It marked the assassination of Benazir Bhutto – clearly the best known Pakistani woman, whatever you think of her politics. It marked also an election that saw more women win on general seats than ever before in Pakistan. But there was more, much more, to the daily struggles and achievements of Pakistan’s 70 million women that we need to celebrate. Today, and everyday.

In the metaphor of the original post, the message is that we all are (not just women, but men too) crossing the road to better gender relations, but we ain’t there just yet. Not by a long shot. Read on, please, even if you have read it before. What follows is my original post from last year.


Today is March 8 – International Women’s Day. Today we wish to celebrate women in the fullness of what it means to be a woman in Pakistan. To celebrate their achievements (also here, here, here, here, here, here and here). And to celebrate their struggles (also here, here, here here, here, here and here).

I have thought much about how best to capture the meaning of this day. It seems to me that in many very important ways, this picture above does.

I have admired this picture by Jawad Zakariya (whose work we have featured before here and here) from the moment I first saw it at Flickr. I had been waiting, however, for the right time and the right context in which to use it. Today, I feel, IS that right time and right context.

There is both dignity and determination in the posture of this young woman as she tries to cross the road (Jail Road, Lahore). As in any good photograph, there are a thousand stories embedded in this one. The metaphor of ‘crossing the road’ is itself so very pertinent for today. So full of meaning.

For me, here is a woman who is not waiting for someone to ‘help’ her cross the road. She is not demanding any special treatment. Not waiting for assistance. Not invoking the chuvinism of the men around her. She is ready, prepared, even eager, to overcome whatever hurdles come in her way. She just wants to cross the road on her own; for people (mostly men) to get out of her way. That, ultimately, is what this day is about. It is not about seeking special treatment, special dispensations, special laws. It is about ensuring that women have what we men have always had. The ability to realize their own potentials. To rise to their own aspirations. To be able to cross the roads they wish to cross… on their own.

75 Comments on “International Women’s Day: Celebrating the Lives of Pakistani Women”

  1. Maleeha says:
    March 8th, 2007 12:16 am

    Thank you for recognizing this day and our struggle, our determination. Its a struggle that all right-minded men and women must fight together.

  2. DB9 says:
    March 8th, 2007 1:02 am

    When I think deeper into the issue, I see a problem with our mind-set. I mean, yes today we do have women in every field, even flying fighter jets but still they cannot ride a bicycle alone on the road even in major cities. Why is that?

    At preliminary analysis, you can blame the over frustrated men who dont have ways to spend their energy in anything constructive like playing tennis, gym, hiking, building train models, night clubs, dancing, ice skating, or any other hobby that normal people need n do…

    So that energy is released in negative ways, this also links to other crimes, even terror.

    But when I think deeper, the problems kinda comes from women too. I am not trying to blame anyone but just trying to understand. Women have the power to inject rational thinking and create an architecture of a balanced personality as a “mother”. The mothers must train the kids especially boys how to behave in an educated society. They have control until that child is young. After that the opportunity is pretty much lost. So we have to ask,are our mothers teaching correctly? are our mother educated and capable of teaching that or teaching anything for that matter? are they conscious about whats on stake here? are they taking any steps on daily basis to educate themselves so they can transfer that education accordingly or are they simply waiting for a hero to come flying some day from the skies? or they r just busy fighting over the rates of aloo, gobee while the nation is drifting away…

    Plus the society as a whole must open up. Meaning we cannot talk about just women rights and try to block everything else, that will not work. I dont think women rights is the problem, I think it is the National Character that needs to be fixed and women rights is one of the things in it. The entire hudood ordinance stupidity must be wiped out and nothing should be above the law.

  3. Daktar says:
    March 8th, 2007 1:07 am

    I really like the meaning you put into the picture. It is a good picture and your interpretation is powerful. I really like teh idea of “To be able to cross the roads they wish to cross… on their own.” So many layers of meaning there.

  4. Daktar says:
    March 8th, 2007 1:12 am

    By the way, nice editorial in THE NEWS on this today:
    http://thenews.jang.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=45949

    Also, the editorial in DAILY TIMES is not on this but is about this:
    http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=200738\story_8-3-2007_pg3_1

    According to this, this is how the MMA and JUI celebrated the International Women’s Day. By announcing that only men can be Prime Minister and President!!! Now you know what you are up against.


    The general secretary of the Jamiat Ulema Islam (F), Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, has delivered himself of a gem of wisdom that people had forgotten: only Muslim males should be allowed to hold the offices of president and prime minister of Pakistan. He said he was preparing a proposal for the MMA Supreme Council that this point should be put in the MMA manifesto for the upcoming elections.

  5. Omar R. Quraishi says:
    March 8th, 2007 4:49 am

    yes the editorial in The News was quite good — even if i might say so myself (i didnt write it myself tho)

  6. SS says:
    March 8th, 2007 5:50 am

    @Adil: I am always two minded about commemorating the 8th of March. On one hand, I ask myself: what’s the point in doing lip service to a cause once a year. On the other hand I am glad it gives the occasion for at least some people to really think about it. When it’s done in a sensitive manner and when there is a track record of treating the issue with respect, then it is a pleasure to see a commemoration or a reminder. Thanks for the post!

    @DB9: First of all thanks for mentioning something that bothers me a lot personally. I used to want to ride a bike in Islamabad, but it was impossible or next to impossible for me to do that. I often wonder why people don’t think about simple things like that. I am glad you did.

    Now for the second part of your post, I am deliberatly going to write a gentle (I hope) post, since you said that you wanted to understand and not blame anyone. I think that the problem is more complex that what you are saying. For now, I’ll base my reply on the two following points:

    - Behaviours in a society are the result of both conscious and unconscious attitudes. Some actions have a large conscious component, while others have a large unconscious component.

    -While the parents are directly respoonsible for their children’s education, it is society as a whole that raises kids and turns them into what they are.

    I think that the way we(as a society) view women and men springs largely from unconscious attitudes. Note that I used the pronoun we (for both men and women) and talked about the way we see both men and women. I think that men and women are both taught from their earliest days how they should fit in their roles as defined by the society. Men are supposed to be strong, never show their emotions, never cry and be ready to fight physically if needed. Women should be gentle, soft spoken, caring etc. What really holds us back as individuals and then as societies is the unconscious attitudes all of us have. As much as my parents wanted me and my brother to have similar educations, I think that they still passed on some of the unconscious stuff. I know for instance that I have to battle constantly with a felling of insecurity while my brother doesn’t. I was somehow conveyed that women are more vulnerable, that they should protect themselves. My brother on the other hand struggles with the expression and awareness of emotions. Somehow, he was never really encouraged in that direction. There is a difference also between verbal learning and learning from the examples we see around ourselves. If a mother and father teach their daughter and son that women should be respected and should respect themselves, but then the next minute the father shouts at the mother for XYZ reason, the children sense her fear and his anger. The lesson they learn here is completely the opposite of what the parents were trying to inculcate in the first place. BTW, I did not invent this situation, I have seen it around me. We transmit a lot of uncounscious attitudes to our children.

    I am now coming to the second point. The education of a child does not take place in a vacuum. First of all the mother is not sole person responsible for the children’s education, the father is as much responsible as her. If the mother tells him one thing and the father another, then it is not going to work. Moreover, there are aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins who all play a role in the education, either directly or by setting examples. Then the school comes in. Children compare themselves a lot with each other at school. If a boy cries then all his pals will make fun of him tell him that it is not manly to do so. If a girl dares have achne, then all her friends will say: “haw! Shadi kay waqt kia karo gi! (What will you do when you get married!)”. A lot of girls get the message that the most important thing for them is to be white skinned, no pimples etc so that they can marry well. Their intellect of course are not important. If she is deemed too much of a rebel because she wants to ride a bike, whe will be told: good girls aren’t supposed to be like that. The messages also come through TV, adds, books etc.

    I agree with you when you say that mothers often don’t try to teach the values of gender respect ot their sons, but I think that this comes from perpetuating the same old patterns unconscioulsy. I think that they are to be blamed like the rest of society. But they are not to be blamed more than the rest of society (fathers, uncles, aunts, school etc). We are all, both the victims and the perpetrators of this game.

    Last but not least, you were wondering about the causes for a lot of men’s attitudes. You mentioned, the lack of healthy activities and an education that doesn’t teach enough respect. I think that the problem also lies with men not being taught/allowed to deal with their emotions in healthy ways. I think this is one domain where women actually have a privilege over men. Anger, helplessness, frustration, the need for love and affection, being worried, stress, fear, sadness etc are all natural emotions. Only there are very few places where men are allowed to express them in a human way. Unfortunately for them, for women and for society, all this often comes out in the form of violence, verbal or otherwise.

  7. Abdullah says:
    March 8th, 2007 5:55 am

    I think putting a picture of girl without her permission is indecent attitude. It is the violation of basic right of women.

  8. Zainub says:
    March 8th, 2007 6:06 am

    I don’t believe in allocating separate days of the year for things which we should be doing all round the year, and hence have always viewed the discussion about both our struggles and our achievements around the first week of March with some skepticism. Interesting to note however that Women’s Day first started out more as civil rights movement, back in 1857, when women demanded equal pay and/or working conditions amongst the rapid world industrialization and economic expansion, I guess on that level the struggle is still on going The Wimbledon for instance only equalized the prize money for the women’s title this year, and another UK- government-commissioned report just this year also concluded that women with young children suffer more discrimination at work than any other group. And that’s the situation in a developed country like the UK. It doesn’t leave one with a hole lot of hope for Pakistan, but still I guess we must hope, against the odds. But please not just on March 8th. More often. Every day. All the time.

  9. iFaqeer says:
    March 8th, 2007 6:24 am

    Maleeha, by “our” I hope you didn’t mean just women. A fairer shake for women benefits society as a whole and all of us as members of that society.

    [PS: It is a very interesting thing that when it comes to addressing, studying, and working on what are often known as "women's issues", it is often the case that in Pakistan (and India, and other such places) the community of folks doing the work is more gender-diverse than it is, say, here in The States.]

  10. Pervaiz Munir Alvi says:
    March 8th, 2007 9:19 am

    Adil: Thank you for speaking on behalf of women of Pakistan and the world. The picture is very telling. However it also tells us that:
    a) the young lady is jay walking dangerously through the on going traffic;
    b) perhaps there are no adequately placed zebra crossings at the road;
    c) no one is mindful of the pedestrian traffic;
    d) and the last. It is not true that all women in Pakistan go about burqa-clad.

  11. Pervaiz Munir Alvi says:
    March 8th, 2007 9:50 am

    “I think putting a picture of girl without her permission is indecent attitude. It is the violation of basic right of women.”

    Abdullah: Is it indecent and a violation because the subject is a female?

  12. March 8th, 2007 10:36 am

    [quote comment="36993"] Women have the power to inject rational thinking and create an architecture of a balanced personality as a “mother”. The mothers must train the kids especially boys how to behave in an educated society. They have control until that child is young. After that the opportunity is pretty much lost. So we have to ask,are our mothers teaching correctly? are our mother educated and capable of teaching that or teaching anything for that matter? are they conscious about whats on stake here? are they taking any steps on daily basis to educate themselves so they can transfer that education accordingly or are they simply waiting for a hero to come flying some day from the skies? or they r just busy fighting over the rates of aloo, gobee while the nation is drifting away…[/quote]

    @DB9: Nicely put, Nepoleon said that if u want a strong nation, give me strong mothers.

    [quote]Plus the society as a whole must open up. Meaning we cannot talk about just women rights and try to block everything else, that will not work. I dont think women rights is the problem, I think it is the National Character that needs to be fixed and women rights is one of the things in it. The entire hudood ordinance stupidity must be wiped out and nothing should be above the law.[/quote]

    @DB9: What is the notion of stupidity who r referring to? Is it that Hudood Ordinance should be removedor Hudood Law should be removed or what the current government is doing in the name of Hudood Ordinance amendments should be removed or something else?????
    But whatever it is, I am sure u have seen this video by now:
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4763829972393791162&q=taqi+usmani

  13. March 8th, 2007 10:55 am

    @Adil bhai:
    “It is about ensuring that women have what we men have always had.”

    Women can never have what men have and men can never have what women have. We are made that way, our thinkings, our emotions, our view of the world can never be the same. But yes, if u r referring to merely the rights and freedom, then i agree.

    Oommenting a bit more on it, I think in the awake of women rights movements especially in the US as mentioned above, our women rights movements have been flawed as they didnt and most have not considered the social and religious differences in the makeup of womanhood in our region.

    So women rights is just about getting jobs to women which men have monopolized. Although a noble and just cause it seems, and surely helps a lot of families out there. But i wonder how a nation without mothers who give full time to their children, who give them the security they deserve, of their 24 hr presence, with the tahzeeb mothers, usually house wives give to the children to balance the act of both schooling (mostly skill work) and educating (mostly ethics, morality and tahzeeb in the larger meaning) can truly prosper. Of course this type of freedom which gives women a skill set in economics or technology or escort-like work (mostly secretaries, air hostesses etc) does improve the economics figures but the society as a whole loses its spirit, its soul, its enlightenment, the same things which is sought in the first place.

    This goes to the men of our society as well, if the men weren’t so lethargic, so incompetent, so careless as they r today, women wudnt have to take up work men shud be doing in the first place. She shud not be made responsible for earning money, but to mould character for future men.

    In Islam men and women are equal but they have different responsibilities.

    In fact, women have more advantages over men, a man is responsible to earn for his entire family whereas earnings which women make are only for herself. Not even her children have right over that.
    The list goes on. if u dont believe it, check this out:
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2065330098429769340&q=aminah+assilmi+duration%3Along

    Being Pakistani, its our responsibility to specify both aspects of women liberation, of both her human rights and her Islamic rights. Only the former is considered to be the whole mission.

    So biased and short sighted!

  14. March 8th, 2007 11:17 am

    @Daktar
    [quote]According to this, this is how the MMA and JUI celebrated the International Women’s Day. By announcing that only men can be Prime Minister and President!!! Now you know what you are up against. [/quote]

    Do we really know what we r up against????? We are up against ourselves and our ideology. When we all followed the Muslim League in the 40′S for a Muslim country where they can practice their religion without any repression, then it was then that we decided that we will form an Islamic society at large, and present a shariah model to the world, we never did that.

    And now, when the west watches us from their eyes, we so conveniently join their thought process. Have we really thought why the MMA made such a comment? Have we gone so numb and so insensitive to the larger picture of Pakistan that we seem to deny even the most conserved, their right to reason?

    The MMA is not my ideal and at times I too vote against their actions, but its their intention which is superior to all politicians. They want Paksitan to stop hypocricy and let the Islamic Republic of Pakistan be Islamic!

    However, their acts r flawed. They are merely saying this that women should not opt for such positions because its not practical for a woman in Islam to mingle with men. And such posts require constant meetings, some in privacy too. Islam doesnot stop women to work, the first of the Prophets PBUH wives was a very successful business woman, but her interactions were always through a proper channel which was at times obtrusive. Had we been blessed by women who were abiding by the Shariah and running for government, I am sure MMA would not have done or said such a thing, after all, if you look at MMA, they too have women representatives and also appear on tv as well.

    Most women are just subjected to b there by the enligthened fauji and most have no clue of whats going on. Women who have reached this far under the current quasi government could not have done so had they not been ‘liberalized’ or ‘enlightened’ according to the fauji’S criteria.

    If you really want to liberate women, stop making her compete with men, give her the respect and rights she deserves. And who r we to decide what rights should she have, dont we have the Quran and Sunnah to look forward to being an Islamic Republic, or am i missing something here?

  15. March 8th, 2007 11:29 am

    @SS:
    Nicely said on the gender chauvinism our and many other societies have.

  16. Daktar says:
    March 8th, 2007 11:37 am

    Thank you Atif Abdul-Rahman for your multiple fatwas educating all fo us on the TRUE PLACE OF WOMEN. Now we know exactly what we are up against.

    No one wants JUI and other mullahs to ‘liberate’ women. Just please stop subjugating them.

  17. March 8th, 2007 12:03 pm

    @Daktar
    “No one wants JUI and other mullahs to ‘liberate’ women. Just please stop subjugating them.”

    I have never said they shud be in control. Start some reading.

  18. March 8th, 2007 12:07 pm

    when a deviant gives his/her opinion, he is liberating,
    but when someone else gives her/his opinion, he is considered to be giving fatwas.

    wow!
    wonder what ‘fatwa’ is defined in the liberal’s dictionary.
    I thought there was a whole spectrum of thoughts, but we find extremists everynow and then dont we

  19. DB9 says:
    March 8th, 2007 12:51 pm

    @SS Thank You. I totally agree that it is the society that is responsible as a whole. I hope to see more women in the leadership rolls on every level and the effort to bring a positive change is needed from both sides equally. After all we are one nation, one family.

    On a practical note I’ll see what I can do to facilitate all women biking event/club in Isloo…

  20. March 8th, 2007 1:06 pm

    nice idea abt the biking club DB9.
    I read recently India started a women only taxi service, driven by women and used by women.

    And in Saudia there are women only country clubs, amusement parks and clubs as well.
    Of course they have women only banks as well getting more and more popular. more women r getting into businesses and owners of huge property. yet they cant drive. Shows thats its not always necessary to have extreme actions, too conserved like Afghanistan or too westernized. however, women driving might be seen soon there.

  21. king_faisal says:
    March 8th, 2007 1:25 pm

    getting women involved in greater numbers in the pakistani workforce is a very effective way of improving the plight of pakistani women. experience outside home environment will give women self-confidence needed to deal with broader society on their own terms and specifically to resist unfair family demands. work also brings financial independence which provides women with the ability to stand up on their own feet if serious problems arise at home. plus career gives women the opportunity to develop or even discover their interests and skills. few things in life are as fulfilling as a successful career. working women also tend to have less children which lessens financial burden on families.

    i also think the cause of pakistani women will be better served if we realise that islamic societies have cultural norms which are different from cultural norms of other societies. larger awam will get alienated and get pushed into the arms of extremists if awam sees the battle for women’s rights as a battle against islam. best example of this is the forced secularisation campaign launched by shah of iran which set back the rights of iranian women by decades. also campaign for women rights should not involve foreigners as has been the case over the last couple of years. unlike english-medium-type pakistanis, awam does not think that gora culture is superior and sees foreign involvement as a backdoor means of imposing gora values.

  22. Daktar says:
    March 8th, 2007 1:27 pm

    What perverted ideas. Why a biking event ONLY for women. Are men ashed of them? Why not for everyone… men, women, children, young, old, muslims, christians, anyone.

    Aurat hona koee choot ki bemari nahin hai!

    And Saudi Arabia is NOT the yardstick of our aspirations, specially for women’s issues. God forbid if we stoop as low as them in the treatment of women, or of humans in general.

  23. Humaira says:
    March 8th, 2007 2:40 pm

    The JUI statement is shameful but not surprising. Looking at other comments here there seems to be no dearth of men who misuse religion to maintain their control on women and tell them what they can and cannot do. It was exactly this type of Saudi-imported thinking that made Maulvi Sarwar kill Minister Zille Huma recently and it was quite support of people who buy into that thinking which is as much a culprit as Maulvi Sarwar is.

  24. Anwar says:
    March 8th, 2007 3:08 pm

    I strongly recommend reading Asma Barlas’s book “Believing Women in Islam.” Her thesis is appealing and gives an insight into the patriarchal mindset of Muslim men of later times.
    Having said that, let us not forget that women in the West enjoys liberties not because of the Christianity but inspite of it. On the religious scale Muslim women have certainly enjoyed more rights and there have been notable scholarship among Muslim women in the history. However in the present times, whether due to economy, culture, or misinterpretation of faith, women in the Muslim world are enduring undue social and economic pressures. They certainly deserve empowerment, education, opportunities, and respect.
    Adil, it was a pleasure to read your blog today. Keep up!

  25. Anwar says:
    March 8th, 2007 3:53 pm

    A very thought provoking article on IWD:

    http://www.counterpunch.com/marshall03082007.html

  26. Aqil Sajjad says:
    March 8th, 2007 4:03 pm

    Very well said King_Faisal.

    Any movement, whether it’s democracy, women empowerment or some other cause, needs to be rooted in an indiginous logic. If it is articulated in a foreign jargon and is seen to be imposed from outside, then it is likely to create more suspicion rather than making much headway. Especially on the women issue, the way a lot of arguments end up sounding like a battle for pushing Islam aside seriously undermine the movement rather than strengthening it.

    Talking of women empowerment, the 33% seats for women is also a very significant thing, especially in light of devolution. They may not be asserting themselves strongly right now, but over time as they get used to participating in active politics, we will insha Allah see a substantial change. For that matter, I think devolution itself is quite a significant step forward even for our democratic development, it should not be judged on the basis of its imediate results, but for its potential to promote democracy at the grass roots. That it has been brought by the military for motives that are widely suspected should not have become a reason for ridiculing the whole idea.

  27. Moeen Bhatti says:
    March 8th, 2007 4:18 pm

    What I see is a poor person, trying to cross road in a heavy trafic because maybe she is getting late for her work. I also see no respect for “right of way” for the person walking on the road as cyclists are not curteous enough to stop & let her pass.

  28. Moeen Bhatti says:
    March 8th, 2007 4:38 pm

    Treating women nicely because they are women is also a kind of sexsual discrimination which is very prevalent in Pakistan.

  29. Maleeha says:
    March 8th, 2007 5:48 pm

    iFaqeer, my choice of the word “our” was deliberate. I hoped that the second sentence, calling for men and women to be together in this fight, would clarify what I meant. Certainly this is a problem that affects all of society, which includes everyone in addition to women.

  30. March 8th, 2007 6:10 pm

    [quote comment="37054"]It was exactly this type of Saudi-imported thinking that made Maulvi Sarwar kill Minister Zille Huma

    This is like saying that Muslims are terrorists, just because alqaeda blew up the wtc, the whole community is alike.

    Its only now that the west has started to understand the differences between various profiles within the larger muslim community.

    Now as u attribute saudi to be something bad is something what u say from outside, ive lived in the west for long as well and am still living here as well, its not a one sided bias like yours. which i say is artificial. Reason, if u can, but acknowledge the fact that people hold different values and different value systems. its too easy sitting outside pointing fingers unnecessarily at a country, even if its Saudia or US.

    As for your argument that saudi mindedness made the fake maulvi kill the person, it holds no water. and u very well know it too. if somehow u feel u know the saudis well and your argument is not fallacious, wake up! Neither the Saudis nor Islam orders allows to do such crimes, Shariah punishes such people. If only u care to read it!

    I wonder where u get your knowledge on Saudia, dont tell me its from the new york bestsellers list!

    And I am not a big fan of Saudia, but we should attribute the good qualities who show them, shouldn’t we. or should we adopt another country’s thinking without any selection or filtering?

  31. March 8th, 2007 6:18 pm

    [quote comment="37052"]And Saudi Arabia is NOT the yardstick of our aspirations, specially for women’s issues. God forbid if we stoop as low as them in the treatment of women, or of humans in general.[/quote]

    True that Saudia shud not be our model as a whole but every society has glipmses of good here and there, if we r not able to adopt them, then atleast acknowledge them.
    I liked one thing abt Saudia and I mentioned it. Doesnot mean i am considering the whole treatment of women there as our benchmark or anything.

    I also mentioned India but i feel u conveniently did not mention as it would have been not in favor of bashing Saudia atleast.

    As for women issues, yes they have women issues but who does not, name one country and enlighten me of such which does not have women issues whether they be their interpretations or ours.

    And just in case, please don’t start the your Islam vs. My Islam interpretation debate here as I have seen some people doing it here, Islam is just one, its the Quran and Sunnah and Fiqah and Ijtama by Ulema not by us. Some things we like, others we might not like, but afterall, Islam is not made for our likings but to make His rule apparent to humanity.

  32. March 8th, 2007 6:20 pm

    [quote comment="37051"]i also think the cause of pakistani women will be better served if we realise that islamic societies have cultural norms which are different from cultural norms of other societies. larger awam will get alienated and get pushed into the arms of extremists if awam sees the battle for women’s rights as a battle against islam. best example of this is the forced secularisation campaign launched by shah of iran which set back the rights of iranian women by decades. also campaign for women rights should not involve foreigners as has been the case over the last couple of years. unlike english-medium-type pakistanis, awam does not think that gora culture is superior and sees foreign involvement as a backdoor means of imposing gora values.[/quote]

    I totally agree, well thought and well written.
    Kudos!

  33. March 8th, 2007 6:34 pm

    If we really think we want to have an intellectual understanding of whats been happening to us since long ago, we need to stop taking sides of extreme views of both people like the maulvi discussed here and those who feel that Islam or its interpretation is a problem.

    I am sure none on this forum occupy any of these two extremes.

    The majority of the population is not even closely represented by us, namely the ATP visitors.

    If we really want to solve problems, we have to be within the major society from where these crimes mostly get publicized. Live in the interior, live with them, work with them. Speak their language and change gradually and surely.

    Living in another continent, we do get acclimatized and we start to think way too differently for the people who live in another country. Even though our intentions are good, we dont deliver what they want.

    Stop Elitism and stop left-right classifications. Try to solve problems. That includes me too.

    I think what king_faisal has said is a very good insight, at least from my opinion. It gives outlets to various solutions.

    Needless to say, Ive heard various outrageous comments here and am ashamed to say that they fail to see such diversity in thoughts and backgrounds. I wont participate in any discussion on this thread unless its based on reasoning and understanding.

  34. March 8th, 2007 6:41 pm

    [quote comment="37065"]Very well said King_Faisal.

    Any movement, whether it’s democracy, women empowerment or some other cause, needs to be rooted in an indiginous logic. If it is articulated in a foreign jargon and is seen to be imposed from outside, then it is likely to create more suspicion rather than making much headway. Especially on the women issue, the way a lot of arguments end up sounding like a battle for pushing Islam aside seriously undermine the movement rather than strengthening it.

    Talking of women empowerment, the 33% seats for women is also a very significant thing, especially in light of devolution. They may not be asserting themselves strongly right now, but over time as they get used to participating in active politics, we will insha Allah see a substantial change. For that matter, I think devolution itself is quite a significant step forward even for our democratic development, it should not be judged on the basis of its imediate results, but for its potential to promote democracy at the grass roots. That it has been brought by the military for motives that are widely suspected should not have become a reason for ridiculing the whole idea.[/quote]

    i guess so. agreed. i think i shud have used slightly different words and tone. i back the women empowerment movement as a whole but i despise what current government is doing. ofcourse, that does not mean that good things happening during this government shud be forfeited.

  35. Humaira says:
    March 8th, 2007 8:34 pm

    12 of the 34 comments above this (more than a third) are (long comments) from the same person. Is’nt this what trolling and forcing ones opinions on others is about!

  36. Ahmed says:
    March 8th, 2007 10:42 pm

    Humaira “12 of the 34 comments above this (more than a third) are (long comments) from the same person. Is’nt this what trolling and forcing ones opinions on others is about!”
    Does’nt it show the concern and feeling of this person who is taking trouble to penetrate our firewalls from a foreign land. To me atleast he appears more troubled by the changes taking place in pakistani society than those who are in it.

  37. Ahmed says:
    March 8th, 2007 10:58 pm

    I for my self see the truth in most of Atif Abdul-Rahman comments. I am a woman and a career woman too in the field of engineering. I will state my opinion here which may as well be used as a case study. My family being liberal modern type never obejected to my choice of career instead i was always supported by people around me resulting in my adopting a career which just does not suits a woman. Now i have inhumanly long hours, high prospects of career growth and a growing bank account too but what i have missed out on is my future as a human being. I would have no one’s shoulder to cry on when i return home at the age of sixty and no one to take care of me and my big purse in the rehabilitation home if ever one gets constructed in pakistan. What i see around me is no different story either most of the women in the country where i live are single by choice because they do’nt have time to raise a child and are not considerate enough to give up on a career just to look after a house and kitchen. I atleast see this as an empty life. What does a single working woman have in her life to look forward to. Would any body in thier right mind term it as liberty. Does it faintly resemble fullfilment?
    what i am trying to say is that islamic teaching and islamic way of life is best, we may not like it in the begining but it proves beneficial in the long run. i would have screamed for women rights and liberation had i been stopped in my career in the begining but looking back i think it would have been a blessing had there been some check on my freedom and my opting as a career woman.

  38. Moeen Bhatti says:
    March 8th, 2007 11:51 pm

    People: We seem to be pretty extremist people. Having a sucessfuk career life doesn’t mean that you can’t have a family or can’t be a good parent. Everything goes hand in hand. You don’t have to be an extremist “religious” person or very “advanced”, living alone.

  39. Omar R. Quraishi says:
    March 9th, 2007 4:26 am

    yes humaira — people like atif are trolls — and most also seem to be MMA sympathisers — i wonder if there is a link

  40. Abdullah says:
    March 9th, 2007 5:11 am

    Mohtaram Qureshi sb,

    Whats wrong if Atif looks “MMA sympathiser”. He proved himself a veru humble presenter & have logics with very strong convictions.

    King_ Faisal, I also appreiate ur approach.

    Daktar! Brother be tolerate, try to create the ability of listening other’s view.

    Ahmaed ! Bravo sister

  41. March 9th, 2007 7:02 am

    No doubt the picture says a lot. However, why do we have to have a day for everything on planet except mankind itself !

    There is a women’s day. A children’s day. A dad’s day. A mother’s day. A non-smoking day. A peace day. A health day .. and the list goes on.

    When we know that all of these things are important, why do we need specially tagged days to recognize them. A child is to be taken care of every day, then why just emphasize on one single day to be aware about it.

  42. MQ says:
    March 9th, 2007 7:10 am

    [quote comment="37088"]“12 of the 34 comments above this (more than a third) are (long comments) from the same person. Is’nt this what trolling and forcing ones opinions on others is about!”[/quote]

    Humaira, In Pakistan we call it “tableegh”!

  43. Adnan Siddiqi says:
    March 10th, 2007 6:40 am


    Whats wrong if Atif looks “MMA sympathiserâ€

  44. TS says:
    March 11th, 2007 10:09 am

    I always think of this quote:
    “I think [the bicycle] has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world,” feminist pioneer Susan B. Anthony said in 1896. “It gives a woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. The moment she takes her seat she knows she can’t get into harm unless she gets off her bicycle, and away she goes, the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”
    I also remember, in my childhood in Lahore, there were women riding bikes for their work , they were selling detergent door to door, and it was perfectly safe and acceptable.

  45. June 28th, 2007 4:15 pm

    that is my only little thinking about this picture which i explain in wording (1)picture of the day shows that now womens of that century cross the mens alone.(2) women can easily pass by walking that way on which men needs help(bicycle) of machines
    (3) people says that two women are equal then one but now this picture shows that two men equal then one women.
    if someone not accept my views then may be contect with me on Mehboob_teacher@yahoo.com i will statisfy him

  46. Akif Nizam says:
    June 28th, 2007 4:42 pm

    Just read this on Yahoo News: Egypt bans female circumcision in the country.

    I read it and was like,”okay, no big deal, they probably found a few people who did such a thing and instituted a law to ban the practice”. Then I read up on it and was shocked to find that 90% of Egyptian women undergo this procedure, most of them at home when they are between 6-11 years old. Gives me the creeps to think that this goes on not only in the subSaharan Africa but in the mainstream Egyptian population. I doubt that the ban will be enforced though.

  47. Daktar says:
    March 8th, 2008 8:00 pm

    This is a striking picture that conjures up many thoughts. But as you say we have to celebrate the struggles of women everywhere everyday.

  48. Tina says:
    March 8th, 2008 8:39 pm

    I have never, never, never heard any woman say “I wish someone had put a check on my freedom and kept me in the kitchen”.

    An engineer with a big bank account is a catch, and should be easily able to get married should she so desire. The whole story doesn’t add up.

    I cry foul. Being raised by a liberal, educated family who supports your decisions means being able to be a wife or an engineer or both. Plenty of women have done it.

    No sane woman would write this letter.

  49. Affan says:
    March 8th, 2008 9:06 pm

    Happy Women’s Day!

  50. Tina says:
    March 8th, 2008 9:38 pm

    To the supposed “woman” Ahmed,

    There is no country on earth where “most” of the women are single and childless–they are a distinct minority everywhere–even in Western countries 95% of women marry and over 85% bear children. So wherever you are living now, you are not expressing a truthful view of the social situation.

    I still am convinced that the Ahmed letter is a fake and that it was written by a man. Shame on whoever did that.

  51. Eidee Man says:
    March 8th, 2008 10:18 pm

    “However, why do we have to have a day for everything on planet except mankind itself”

    Well, you have these days to draw attention to issues that otherwise would not get any attention; like MLK day in the U.S.

    Anyway, I’m not surprised by your comment given your alias….[cough].

  52. Eidee Man says:
    March 8th, 2008 10:24 pm

    “What i see around me is no different story either most of the women in the country where i live are single by choice because they do

  53. March 9th, 2008 3:01 am


    Nepoleon said that if u want a strong nation, give me strong mothers

    ATif, I bet Nepolean would not have met any Feminist of his time else he would not have started a movement against them first.

    On a related note, How Musharraf spread liberalism and empowered our women.

    tinyurl.com/33m3z6

  54. March 9th, 2008 3:21 am

    Read “else he would not have started” as “else he would have started”

  55. Nimi says:
    March 10th, 2008 3:56 am

    Good Lord, “separate clubs, taxis, banks for women”?

    when shall both genders get the chance of knowing each other and learn to work together in a society? Comme off it guys. Womens are nothing more than human beings. Giving them a sacred status is in fact a way of denying their basic rights.

    Pakistani is no special among primitive societies. In such societies, stronger crush the weaker. Comparing the comparable, women are a weaker group, inside the families, to start with. This is above all a question of equality of human beings and then that of enforcement of the law. Mentanlities can be improved by the law to start with and can be sustained by the education.

    Thanks God, there an international day for women, so that even in a primitive society like Pakistan, one would talk about womens’ struggle and the necessity of their equal rights. I would also wish an international day for, but not limited to, the following weaker groups :

    1. religious minorities,
    2. agricultural slaves
    3. child labour
    4. poor people
    5. married by force
    6. kidnapped by the agencies,
    7. manhandled by the police
    8. educated in government schools
    9. killed for someone’s honor
    10. non english speakers
    11. people suffering from load shedding, water shortage and public transports, etc. etc.

    Could someone please help me add more to this list?

  56. Eidee Man says:
    March 10th, 2008 6:44 am

    “I would also wish an international day for, but not limited to, the following weaker groups :

    1. religious minorities,
    2. agricultural slaves
    3. child labour
    4. poor people
    5. married by force
    6. kidnapped by the agencies,
    7. manhandled by the police
    8. educated in government schools
    9. killed for someone

  57. Tina says:
    March 10th, 2008 8:30 am

    Eidee Man–the problem with separate facilities is that they are rarely, if ever, equal, meaning ultimately women are denied access to services. Secondly, such facilities reinforce gender segregation instead of fighting it.

    It’s a concept that looks okay on paper but in practice works out rather badly.

  58. Nimi says:
    March 10th, 2008 8:35 am

    Eidee Man wrote “Also, you should proofread more.”

    Thanks indeed, I should also stop picking my nose and throwing my socks all around the place.

    Anyways, primitive is also the mentality that believes that women should either be kept away from or else receive special treatment in public places.

  59. Qandeel says:
    March 10th, 2008 8:58 am

    Feminists have long debated the “equal treatment” vs “special treatment” approach. But it’s not so black and white. I think the issue is context-specific; there may crop up situations that require and justify special treatment. But I think we’re a long way from discussing those in Pakistan. The key point now is to ensure that that girl has the basic freedom of mind and body to be able to cross a road.

  60. Nimi says:
    March 11th, 2008 3:58 am

    Qandeel,

    the situation is certainly complex and making it context specific does not make it better. Truth is that societies need some simple and robust rules to move forward. You put it correctly, that girl should have all freedom of mind and body to cross the road. State agencies and civil vigilance have got to make sure it happens.

    I believe that if women are assured of their protection, in case things go wrong, then they would dare more in confronting the outside world on their own and hence help in changing some bogus mentalities.

    In my town of punjab, the custom was that girls of “shareef families” wouldn’t go out alone e.g. to the market place. She would rather be accompanied by her younger brother, no matter if he were half of her size.

    The idea was that the boys standing uselessly in the street should not tease her or pass some vulgar comments. The presence of the younger brother was considered as a precautionary measure. In any case she was not supposed to reply. Now those boys also were no angels and they could at times go out of control. One would better avoid them rather confronting them. Why was there no or little control over those boys is the central question. Normally girls with many grown up brothers felt more respected than the others.

    Then, as a kid, I went to karachi and was amazed by the freedom of movement the girls enjoyed over there. At times there were also bands of boys standing uselessly and would pass some remarks on the passing girls but it did not become a bigger problem. At times, I saw some girls replying back in harsh words but those boys rather enjoyed it and didn’t get angry or nasty. It seemed to me that replying back was a more normal thing for karachite girls in comparison with those of my small town of punjab.

    So, the protection needs to be ensured to start with and then girls need to dare more and more so that this is no more an issue.

  61. March 12th, 2008 7:30 am

    A ceratinly very nice post. Keep it up please.

    Even the comments so far are reflecting a sense of realisation of the problem by all. I tend to agree with Nimi that ‘mentalities can be improved by the law and can be sustained by education’.

    I will go a little further that only laws are not enough, their sincere and strict adherence is equally important. Also, eduaction, not for the sake of material gains only, but for character building as well, is what any society needs.

    This is, nonethelss, a fact that deprived lot has to stand up to get their due rights as no society ever gave it in a platter. Such, objectives can not be achieved overnight or in weeks or months. Europe is not where they were 3-4 centuries ago. Even the US women did not have the right to vote some 60-70 years ago. Slavery (both men and women) is still practiced in a few parts of the world. Civilization has covered a long distance over the centuries from the dark ages and still has to cover a lot of distance. Now we see women as heads of states, an African American woman as US Secretary of State and another black running as US president hopeful.

    She is also right about behaviour of Karachiites. This is perhaps due to a better literacy rate here. But still we have separate compartments for ladies and gents in public transport in Karachi (used mosly by the less priviledged) and women folk frequently face sexual harassment unlike in Mumbai or Tehran or Kualalumpur where men and women travel side by side and no one bothers the other. Perhaps, laws and education, both are at work in shaping up these cultures this level.

    One must admit, that there has been a lot of improvement lately thanks to several NGO’s and the media towards spread of realization of these issues and I think Pakistani society as a whole has to pledge for supporting itself to bring some semblance of civility to the society. Is it asking for too much!

  62. SHARAD says:
    May 24th, 2008 8:02 am

    Status of Womens in Pakistan should be equal to Men, they are the one who can guide Pakistan towards better future. Womens are more inteligent than Men in Pakistan.

    Womens wanna be a” Soldier” and fight for love.

    Mens wanna be a “Soldier” they dont know what they are fighting for.
    RESPECT WOMENS OF A COUNTRY AND SEE THE DIFFERENCE.

  63. Babur Mahmood says:
    August 30th, 2008 7:14 pm

    despite us celebrating women’s day etc. I have just read that we are still killing any burying alive our women. Shame on Pakistan, shame on Baluchis, shame on this perverted version of Islam that we follow. Where are these politicians, the law makers. I read that PM is in Baluchistan. This spineless puppet has gone to do zardari’s bidding. I only wish he had gone to Baluchistan to personally supervise arrest of the barbaric murdered who have killed five innocent women.

  64. konpal says:
    August 31st, 2008 6:59 am

    Bravo!!!!!!!! I reread your post on women day and then i read ur post on the MASS ALIVE BURIAL OF FIVE WOMEN and i am thinking DO WE REALLY RESPECT THE WOMEN OF OUR NATION????? Are we truly the umaati of a Prophet, who used to standup when his daughter came, to pay her respect and symbolises respect for all the womenhood

  65. Rafay Kashmiri says:
    August 31st, 2008 1:50 pm

    @ Beautiful ” Policen” trying to pass thru two
    ” shah-swaran-e-cyclaan ” what elegance.

  66. Sahreen Tanvir says:
    September 3rd, 2008 5:28 am

    This picture depicts that how much strong a woman is. A woman has a very strong will power and she does not care for any hurdles. This picture depicts all the abilities of woman. I also want to appreciate the photographer who takes this picture from a deep angle. This picture gives us the sense that we should look beneath the sense of matters rather than the looking at the matter apparently.

  67. cyber_cohen says:
    April 4th, 2009 3:10 am

    What I see in this picture is that this woman should not be allowed out on her own. Does she not know the common etiquettes associated to everyday road use?

    Also, but more importantly, does she (and others like her) not know that Islam has provisions for womens rights and they do not need to look to foreign (exploited) women for inspiration? All they need to do is educate themselves and their children in what Islam has to say. For example, the common practice of dowry (from the woman’s side) does not exist in Islam.

  68. cyber cohen says:
    April 4th, 2009 3:22 am

    SHARAD says:May 24th, 2008 8:02 am
    “Status of Womens in Pakistan should be equal to Men, they are the one who can guide Pakistan towards better future. Womens are more inteligent than Men in Pakistan.”

    It is nonsense such as this statement that is the cause of a lot of social problems that exist in Pakistan today. Status of women in Pakistan should be as dictated in Islam. No more, and certainly no less.

    Women need to be educated, but this needs to be within rules governed by Islam (for example, women doctors for women, or to be able to learn about the rights given to them within Islam).

    To all those males that have been cheerleading in favour of ‘womens rights’, ask yourselves this simple question: Will you (or did you) accept (or even expect) dowry when you get married? It is easier to talk about in agreement with these issues, but do you actually have the courage to pratice them? Or is the greed too strong?

    Islam does not have provisions for dowry from the woman’s family, yet this is widely practiced in Pakistan.

  69. Adnan says:
    May 13th, 2009 11:32 am

    The women’s day is to respect the achievements and suffering of women
    But what is the compitition about
    WOMEN ARE EQUAL TO MEN
    this is the most senseless thing to say
    i dont understand why these peaple dont get it…Even two twin brothers or twin sister can never be equal,everyone has their own weaknesses their own qualities …how do they expect the totally different sexes to be the same.My statement would be
    WOMEN ARE NOT EQUAL TO MEN AND MEN ARE NOT EQUAL TO WOMEN.
    I dont want to hurt anyones feelings but i think i donot offend anyone.

  70. Michael Williams says:
    November 7th, 2009 5:44 pm

    What a beautiful woman. Where do I find one for myself.

  71. USMAN says:
    March 8th, 2010 10:25 am

    This is a very powerful picture and very strong sentiments. You are right every day should be Women’s Day and we need to respect women all the time.

  72. Humaira says:
    March 8th, 2010 11:44 am

    Very appropriate picture.
    A woman facing a man’s world… with confidence and grace.
    Bravo.

  73. March 8th, 2010 3:18 pm

    *grin*

    My 2 cents on so called Womens’ day

    kadnan.com/blog/2010/03/07/fooling-women/

  74. March 17th, 2010 1:15 pm

    Indeed, women today are much focused and confident, still there needs to be some more awareness among the male population, to not to treat them as second class citizens. Even educated youth sometimes behave as their rural counterparts. Womem’s Day is a reminder to our society to think again!!!

  75. Rehana Safia Abdi says:
    May 5th, 2010 1:01 am

    Rab nai saza bata dee hai.
    Read 5:33.Jou Allah aur Rasool sai jhagra karai=Quran mein fasad kai liyai ous kou shehr badr kar dou,ya ouskai mukhalif simt sai hath paoun kaat dou ya ousai sooli dai dou.
    Jab hum Quran kai ahkaam kou follow nahein kartai tou lagaou aag apnai gharoun kou.
    Jab Rab nai gussa haraam kar diya tou hum kiskou yeh gussa dikhatein hein?
    3:119.Tum apnai gussai mein marh jaou.
    111:1.Haath toot jaein abi lehab kai—.
    Abi=father.lehab=Sholai=flame jou baap gussai mein aag bagola hou jata hai.
    Haath=Aulad=burhapai ka sahara hotai hein.
    Gussa kar kai woh apnai haath torh laita hai.
    Aai jin o ins=hum
    humara batin jin kaha Rab nai=chupa hua keena,gussa bughz=aag.
    Ins=insaan=zahir
    Apnai jin kou qabou mein rakho warna fasad burpa hoga.
    Jin,shaitaan,tagoot=yeh hum aap hee hein ,koee aur makhlooq nahein.
    farz karou yeh koee aur makhlooq hoti tou Rab hum sai kiyoun zikr karta?
    Aur agar jin aag ka bana hua hai tou ousai dozaq ki aag kia kar lai gee?
    Jin humara gussa=aag hai.

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