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

  1. Rehana Safia Abdi says:

    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.

  2. 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!!!

  3. *grin*

    My 2 cents on so called Womens’ day

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

  4. Humaira says:

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

  5. USMAN says:

    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.

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