In an ever-evolving world, one cannot stay stagnant and expect great things to happen. The Pakistani society, fully cognizant of this fact, is trying to keep pace with dynamism to fulfil Jinnah’s vision of a developed, prosperous, inclusive, and tolerant society. The cornerstone of this dynamism is the part that Pakistani women are playing inside their homes and out. The fact that women entered into the independence struggle, particularly after March 23, 1940 resolution calling for the creation of Pakistan, set the precedent for the role women were expected to play in the new nation. Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah elucidated what was expected of the Muslim women pre- and post-partition. Muslim women and their families stepped up to the plate on his call and leant support to the struggle for independence.
As with all social change, this sudden change met with inertia from some segments after Pakistan was carved out, but the awareness that was already there could not be ignored and hence, Pakistani society has continuously evolved from strength to strength. Pakistan’s short history is speckled with achievements of its women in diverse fields like education, politics and diplomacy, business, sports, etc., that are acknowledged the world over. Women have been successful in making their mark and creating space for themselves in all walks of life. Many hurdles have been overcome and many remain to be crossed on this road, as with all societies (even the most advanced ones). The journey that began with the Quaid leading with example has progressed to a point where the only way forward is up.
Adoption of effective measures and legislation has facilitated women’s inclusion into mainstream to become significant contributors in national life. We have advanced leaps and bounds in dealing with issues of access to education, job security, workplace harassment, mobility and making life decisions. However, what needs to be understood is that all this was not done in a day and whatever more is to be done will also take time. Pakistani women, contrary to prevalent prejudiced perceptions, are doing just as well as women from any other part of the world and the problems that they face are just as common as those of women elsewhere. No foreign model could be considered a fix for any concerns that may exist in Pakistan. We need to work within our own unique context to address our problems so that the solutions will be workable, acceptable and sustainable; a Band-Aid approach is not a cure. Whatever progress has come about is home-grown and the shortcomings will also need to be addressed in our own milieu. Spaces not only need to be created for women but they need to put their best foot forward to fill up as well as create spaces for themselves; they cannot hide behind perceived obstacles but have to find solutions to the problems that they face.
Women are the agents of change in any society. Every Pakistani woman needs to realize that the part she has to play in the chain of events that will lead to the realization of the dream of a peaceful and prosperous Pakistan is foundational and recognize her capacity and role for the betterment of the country, her own and that of those associated with her. HH
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