Breaking the stereotype

Women are not fragile

Usually, we have seen the term written on glass items “Fragile handle it with care.” The same is the case in our societies. We started to believe that the women around us are weak, fragile, and incompetent to be in the top leadership. Women from all backgrounds or professions are considered vulnerable and less suited to top positions no matter how hard they fight against societal stereotypes. But they received compliments of less competence and emotional vulnerability.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a woman of the West, like Hillary Clinton, who received the compliments from a male competitor (Trump) for having less stamina to be US PresidentOr you are a Daughter of East, Benazir Bhutto, against whom the slogan was arose that a woman as a ruler was not acceptable. Years later, this mentality still dominates our societal mindset. Up to this time, women are perceived as weak, fragile, and not brave enough to make bold decisions, which severely damages the impression of women as leaders.

Pakistan has a complicated history regarding women and gender, where people fail to recognize that feminism is not an alien or anti-Islamic concept. Mostly, in Pakistan people misinterpreted the word feminism.  People made this concept so controversial and mixed up with vulgarity, totally forgetting that Islam is much more conscious about women’s status in society and considered women an integral part of the community.

Islam repudiates this understanding that women are fragile and less competent to compete with men. Moving forward, Islam had the example of Hazrat Khadija, who was the wealthiest woman of Makkah who ran her business all alone from Damascus to Hijaz very successfully, which shows that gender does not determine your capability or capacity to do something.

Feminism only demands equal rights for women from the floor of the legislature to the domestic sphere.

The feminist approach develops on several phenomena. The main focus is exclusion of women from public and world politics. The practical manifestation is The Prince and The Leviathan in which war is defined only by the male perspective.
The reality depicts something entirely different. The question raised by the feminist school of thought  In war the female is going to be affected the most. For instance, if a male dies in war he left behind women who are going to suffer after his death. Moreover, rape has been used as a strategy of war; which countries use to show their powerful muscle, hurts women the most.  According to UNSC 1370, the conflicts of Afghanistan and Syria must be resolved through the perspective of women. The absence of women decision-mkers in male-dominant societies has created so many problems for women. So, equal representation is viable for women in conflict to indulge them in world politics. This is ultimately what women empowerment means.

Any woman is not independent unless she is educated and has her own identity. Women should gather their inner strength and not allow their fears to bring them down, because predators always gain strength from fear.

In 2019, there is a statement from Rula Ghani, that in the Afghan peace process, women must be given an equal part because decades-long war inflicted damage on women in the life of the common women of  Afghanistan. Unfortunately, there is no defined rule for the women in Pakistan which defines what security problems they are facing, or what decisions are taken by men on their behalf.  FORMANCE

As far as an Eastern girl is concerned, it is acceptable to slaughter her in the name of honour, but it is not tolerable if she goes against the culture in which she was born. Literature has evidence that “Nero played the fiddle while Rome burned,” here in Pakistan, and under the patriarchal system, many of us watch this Rome burning every day, every hour, silently with the ashes of billions of dreams of women in their fist. It is a fact that womanhood in Pakistan is suffering and being watched supinely. Moreover, in a recent report of the World Health organization, seven out of ten leading-edge workers in the health sector are women, but society still accused women of being fragile and unable to fight on the frontlines.

According to the report Understanding domestic violence in India during Covid-19,  domestic violence in India increased due to lack of economic performance, social problems, and psychological issues men faced. The women peace and security index illustrates that Pakistan is on 164 of 167 countries, while Yemen and Syria is on 165 and 166, which are war torn areas.

In the Subcontinent, colonial powers and their capitalist system leave a dark impact on women and their societal status. In pre-colonial times women had a prestigious role in society, just like men. But the circumstances in the Subcontinent changed after the arrival of the East India Company and of British rule. Unlike many other things, the British decree brings a drastic change in their custom and tradition. In Europe, the status of men was high. But in the Subcontinent, before the arrival of British, men and women had equal status and responsibilities in society.

In the pre-colonial system, women play a vital role in social matters. They were custodians of the teaching traditions, culture, fishing, and hunting, and due to this reason, they were not financially dependent on their men. Many of them were judges, which are free to give their opinion on different matters. At that time, the concept of a male-dominant judiciary did not exist; the women’s voice had as much credibility as men’s. Following that, pre-colonial societies were matrilineal, which means wealth and power were transferred through women to the new generation. Women were honored and respected for the unique roles they were playing in society. Before colonialization, women were part of the Women Councils, in which, just like male chiefs, they made influential decisions on critical matters. Women at that time were part of the decision-making bodies because they were wise, they nurtured families and knew what was best for the whole village and society. After the arrival of colonial powers they ignored the role of women completely and insisted on negotiating with men on important matters. After the implementation of this, women eventually disappeared from the mainstream role and British defined their specific rule under which they had to live, which dramatically changed the roles, rights, and privileges of women in society.

In the scenario in Pakistan it is believed that “Feminist are those who dare to breaking the silence of discrimination, oppression, and violence.” From the time of independence women have been facing various types of discrimination and treated as second-class citizens of the country just because of their gender.

Women are battling against the exploitative treatment of their male counterparts to gain equality in the economic and political sphere of their lives. It is a fact that gender-based discrimination exists beyond doubt and it is hard for women to speak up against this suffering. The main issue is that often girls underestimate their own strength and boys overestimate theirs. People insist that women cannot handle the basic framework of responsibilities, just like the idea that they are less mentally and emotionally stable as compared to men to hold the responsibilities, insisting that women are fundamentally weak in nature.

This is a common narrative that people taught them that they are weak; and they started to act as if it was correct.   Most females in Pakistan internalize their suffering due to fear of society and lack of education. In addition to this, people usually set limits for their daughters by saying, “You are a girl and girls can’t do this,” in our society, people from the very beginning set certain limits for their daughters by legitimizing everything for their sons. Thus women internalize about male strength and female weakness, totally forgetting the fact girls can hit a puck as high as boys can. Certainly, when all power appears the sole domain of men, women started to question their competence, capabilities and then accepted society’s distress narratives. This all happens as a result of lack of education and literacy, and women are unaware they are living in democratic country in which the Constitution has given the right to speak against injustice and discrimination. For women it is not too late to discover what they can really do. To stand up, women need to refuse to bow down.

Any woman is not independent unless she is educated and has her own identity. Women should gather their inner strength and not allow their fears to bring them down, because predators always gain strength from fear.

“With the pen of bravery women need to rewrite their stories.” 

Sana Ahmed
Sana Ahmed
The writer can be reached at [email protected]

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