A gift for my father…

  • Campaign launched to promote active fatherhood on World Father’s Day

A year-long campaign titled “Greening Pakistan-Promoting Responsible Fatherhood” was launched on Sunday by Rutgers World Population Foundation to promote responsible fatherhood.

The campaign will be implemented across Pakistan with local partners’ aid and was inaugurated to commemorate World Father’s Day, which is celebrated annually on June 16.

Father’s Day is celebrated across the world to honour fathers and appreciate their sacrifices, love and contributions towards their children’s well-being and development. It was inaugurated in the United States in 1910 to complement the World Mother’s Day, which lauds the critical role mothers play in their children’s lives.

The campaign focuses on transforming gender stereotypes in society which dictate that men are only the breadwinners of the family and have no care giving role towards their children, which is traditionally seen as the woman’s job.

The campaign highlights how fathers are far less emotionally expressive towards their children due to these prescribed masculine roles, stunting the overall development of the family and children’s personality growth.

The Rutgers Foundation’s initiative on Father’s Day seeks to eliminate child marriages and domestic violence and help create an enabling environment where women and children rights are not violated.

The campaign will conclude on the next World Father’s Day in 2014.

The Day was also celebrated across the city with great enthusiasm among the affluent classes. Young and old citizens alike presented tokens of their love to their fathers. The most popular gifts included watches, clothing items, mugs, cakes, wall hangings and other such Father’s Day memorabilia.

Speaking outside a local fast food chain, Faizan and his children Omer and Alia informed that they had taken time away from the rest of the family for a special Father’s Day lunch. “I work six days a week, and by the time I reach home my dad is already in bed. I hardly get to spend time with him, so today I am taking him out for lunch so we can catch up and bond over some pizza,” said Omer. A very happy Faizan told that his children had bought him a special Father’s Day themed cake and his favourite perfume to honour his striving for their upbringing. “I have worked as many as 13 hours a day so my kids could have whatever they want or need. Today, my son and daughter are returning the favour,” said a proud, beaming Faizan.

However, on the other side of the socio-economic ladder, Father’s Day passed by unobserved. Speaking to a few domestic workers in Sector I-8 revealed that the lower classes were completely ignorant of this international day. “There is a grand party at my employer’s house tonight, so I have been busy with arrangements since the morning, buying meat and vegetables from the market and working with the mechanic to ensure the electricity generator’s functioning. I have not seen my father in six months as he does not live in Lahore and my village is quite far away. I do not know anything about Father’s Day,” said Abdullah, a driver.

In addition to ignorance, the working classes also expressed disinterest in celebrating Father’s Day: “I earn just enough to feed and clothe myself. With rising prices, just paying our room’s rent has become almost impossible. My old father is happy enough that I can put roti in his stomach once a day, he does not expect any gifts or cake,” said Sakina, a sweeper.

The class differential with respect to Father’s Day celebrations cannot be ignored, and stems largely from the fact that most Father’s Day gifts and items are far beyond the economic reach of the poor. According to Nazir, who wanted to acquire a gift for his father, most shops housing these commodities are found in posh locales, and sell items with a minimum price of Rs 1000. “On and around Father’s Day, high end shops located in Jinnah Super almost double prices of Father’s Day items. I cannot afford such gifts as I am from a modest background, so I have just gotten a card for my father. It’s the thought that counts!” he explained.

A shopkeeper in Aabpara Market informed that many elite gift shops earned myriad profits through events like World Father’s Day. “We do great business on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Most of the items are imported from China, and sold with a hefty profit to the local distributor. Valentine’s Day is undoubtedly the most successful.”

Booming business on Father’s Day raises questions about its utility for some. “I understand that people want to honour their parents for all the love they have born them. But in a country ravaged by a severe economic crisis, is it wise to spend thousands on useless merchandise?” said a student, Ali, who chose to celebrate Father’s Day by helping his servant buy a schoolbag for his child. According to Ali, his act is closer to the Day’s spirit.

Others also condemn Father’s Day celebrations like Ali, albeit on a different count. “These celebrations are Christian, and testify to a flagrant disregard for our religion, culture and customs. Father’s Day, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day are un-Islamic, and their commemoration in Pakistan shows how our nation is foolishly accepting Western cultural imperialism,” said Usman bin Waqar, a mullah at a small mosque in Sector I-10.

However, despite dissenting voices like Usama and Ali, events like World Father’s Day continue to witness rising popularity in Pakistan’s urban areas.



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