Women constitute more than half of the total population of Pakistan! The indicator is visible enough to reflect the critical role of females in the society at all levels.
A mother’s lap is the first institue for a child. A mother devotes all her time, energy, personal fun and freedom for the upbringing of her kids to the best of her ability and capacity. Women — an epitome of care, love, compassion — have always been complementing men in the society in all spheres of life. Looking from Islamic point of view women carry equal importance in the society. The Holy Quran declares that men and women were created from one soul, as partners. Apparently, the Muslim society may seem oppressive to few; but if we take a closer look, these are actually the prevalent social norms developed by the society itself rather than representing true teachings of Islam. These are mostly tribal and cultural taboos that are used to suppress and deprive women of their due rights. Islam gives women the rightful standing in the society unlike any other creed or religion.
Allah stated in Surah An-Nisa: "O Mankind, be dutiful to your Lord who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate (of same kind) and from them both has spread a multitude of men and women". Further examples of empowering the women by Islam can be seen in the Holy Quran where Allah Almighty addresses both men and women. “Indeed, The Muslim men and Muslim women, the worshipping men and the worshipping women, the truthful men and the truthful women, the pious men and the pious women, the alms giving men and the alms giving women, the fasting men the fasting women, the men who are chaste and the women who are chaste, the men who remember Allah much and the women who do likewise, Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward for all.” (Surah Al-Ahzab, 33:35). These are the teachings that guide a Muslim woman to shape her life. Islam does not limit the women from attaining education and knowledge. It is equally mandatory for both Muslim men and women to seek knowledge, even if one has to go beyond the borders. Islamic history is full of examples where women played powerful roles in domestic affairs as well as matters of power and politics.
In recent past, the Muslim women of the Subcontinent made great contributions during the Pakistan Movement. Even when they were subjected to killings, torture, abduction and rape at the hands of tyrant non-Muslims during migration, nothing shook their resolve to abandon their cause.
At that time, our women used to observe strict pardah (veil). They were not very well educated but on the other hand they were politically aware and motivated. During the Pakistan Movement, Muslim women leaders became ‘role models’ not only for the women in the subcontinent but also for women around the globe. Despite facing different kinds of hurdles in the society, they came forward and worked for the cause of independence alongside men. Women not only addressed women-exclusive meetings but also became prominent speakers at men’s public gatherings. In 1939, addressing the general meeting of the Women’s Sub-Committee of Muslim League held at Qaiser Bagh, Bombay, Fatima Jinnah while describing the goals of the Muslim League, awakened the Muslim women and gave them political consciousness. Prominent Muslim women during the Pakistan Movement such as Ra'ana Liaquat Ali Khan, Begum Ghulam Hussain Hidayatullah, Begum Jahanara Shahnawaz and many others met with the wives and the daughters of British officers to convince them that their cause was just. Some educated women opened schools in their homes to voluntarily educate Muslim girls. They preached their husbands, sons and brothers to join the Pakistan Movement and those who already took part in the struggle, were encouraged not to give up the cause until the goal was achieved.
Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah fought for the empowerment and rights of women all his life; correctly pointing out that Islam did not sanction treating the women as second class citizens or a property who had to be kept within the walls of the house at all times. Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah acknowledged, “... I am glad to see that not only Muslim men but Muslim women and children have understood the Pakistan scheme. No nation can make any progress without the cooperation of its women. If Muslim women support their men, as they did in the day of the Prophet (SAW), we should soon realize our goal”.
Pakistan has changed a lot since 1947, in terms of empowering women through reforms and consensus. Today Pakistani women are excelling in all walks of life; from education to sports to professional life, their achievements are significant. Whether she is an army officers, pilot, engineer, CSP Officer, athlete, academician or parliamentarian, her imprints in our national life are wide and deep. The indicators of women empowerment are improving in terms of education, health, economic opportunities, social protection, safety and security. Today’s Pakistani woman is on road to empowerment, and doing it rapidly. Her destination is not far off!
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