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Friday, March 8, 2013

International Women's day and Pakistan

Today the 8th of March marked International Women's day across the globe, and even in a country like Pakistan it did not go unnoticed in social media as well as online media. Numerous restaurants, cafe's and other retail outlets among the major urban centers tried to cash in by offering special women's day promotions through very segmented and targeted marketing activities aimed at the affluent, educated urban middle and upper middle class women. There were also countless blogs written by young Pakistani women on the day itself and concerning the status-quo of women in Pakistan. Even though the purpose of celebrating International women's day is to celebrate the achievement and the role that women play in the world, to celebrate their important contributions, in essence a celebration of women hood. It is unfortunate that this day is taken opportunistically by those women who have an agenda of feminiazism on their mind.

Feminism and Feminazism should not be confused with one another. Feminism is a noble initiative, it is about female empowerment and equality in society, while feminazism incorporates female dominance and supremacy, which also entails abuse and mistreatment of men, and also complete and utter rejection of some of the very important roles that women also play in our society. There is no denying that the nature of society is such that women have been the relatively marginalized and mistreated of the genders, such maybe the nature of traditional Asian societies, this however does not mean you at the same time encourage and give rise to the other extreme which I have already mentioned as being rejection  of what womanhood stands for and vile hatred and distrust for the opposite sex. As a comedian once jokingly said a woman is only a feminist till she finds her mister right ha-ha.

This was brought to my attention courtesy of a blog written by a young Pakistani girl who happens to be a graduate student at the University of Southern California in the United States. There is no denying that the West has played a significant role in female empowerment and delivering them the rights that every human being deserved. Their society hasn't always been like this, it wasn't until the early 20th century that women in the United States were able to vote, and it wasn't until Bill Clinton was President that women were entitled to   legal maternity leave in the United States. Even today, the United States is the only country in the developed world where maternity leave for women is unpaid and due to the poor economic conditions and lack of employment opportunities many are reluctant to take the 12 weeks off which are a legal entitlement to them.

In her blog, the young lady does manage to raise some important points about our societies short comings, how ever at the same time she is some what suggesting that women in Pakistan should complete reject all traditional roles and expectations out of them. In the blog she manages to particularly demonize marriage and motherhood quite a bit also, trying to make a point that this is where women's focus in Pakistan lies finding the right husband to settle down in  and have a family.  That might not be entirely accurate, but it is a bit of a generalization and it is unfair to demonize such aspirations if women have, even the educated one's if their ambitions include finding a good compatible life partner with whom to start a family so be it. Feminism is about women's right, if young women want to exercise their right to a good comfortable domestic life with a good life partner, I do not see anything wrong in that. As far as motherhood goes, a bond or a relation as noble as motherhood does not deserve to be demonized even in our thought, how would the blogger have felt had her mother neglected her in pursuit of the so called Western or American ideals of feminism?

We certainly have a long way to go towards female empowerment in Pakistan, we are definitely far behind. But let us not forget that Pakistan as a country and society is very different from the Anglo American West, maybe we need a customized approach towards female empowerment such as changing perceptions regarding women's education or women's use of two wheeler for personal transport as opposed to blindly following a western model, which doesn't distinguish between feminism and misguided feminism.

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