Through out the history of the world women have been both mistreated, and trodden down upon in an effort to systematically reduce them to a level lower than men for objectification as well as misuse. However women’s movements have fought against this oppression and for the equality of women to grant them free will, a reputable place in society as well as a chance to make something out of themselves. This is the philosophy of feminism and the feminist movement which has its roots in the 18th century in France.
Many of us think that feminism and the movement are recent phenomena in Pakistan, naturally so as most of our media outlets still demonize this movement as not just against our religion but influenced by foreign and specifically Zionist policy. This new modern liberating mindset as it is highlighted has been around ever since the days of Fatima Jinnah who was one of the prime examples of a feminist and a person who struggled for women’s rights throughout her life. Rana Liaquat Ali khan who founded the “United front for women’s rights” was another pioneer in activism in those days. In fact the early days of the feminism in Pakistan were met with great success as women not only achieved the right to vote but made it part of the constitution to have representation reserved for them in the Parliament from 1956 to 1973. After this came Bhutto era and this really opened up all government services to women including the district management group and the Foreign Service which had been denied to them earlier. About 10 percent of the seats in the National Assembly and 5 percent in the provincial assemblies were reserved for women in this era. The 73 constitution affords the protection of marriage, family, the mother and the child as well as ensuring “full participation of women in all spheres of national life”
Then came the era of Zia’s vile regime and the discriminatory laws introduced in the shape of the “Hudood Ordinance” and the Qanun-e-Shahadat Order. He banned women from taking part and from being spectators of sports and promoted pardah. He also proposed laws regarding Qisas and Diyat, Islamic penal laws governing Qisas and compensation diyat in crimes involving bodily injury. When the victim was a woman, the amount of diyat was halved.
After Zia’s regime had come to a hasty halt, the governments of Benazir Bhutto brought about many reforms for women in Pakistan and this period can be best described as a virtual bonanza for feminists in Pakistan, as the First women’s bank was established. Leader of the Pakistan was for the first time in history a woman and she paved the way for many of women to become major players in politics as well as stakeholders in the halls of power. Followed by General Pervaiz Musharraf also introduced new development programs for women.
The whole point of the history lesson though is that Pakistan as a nation is capable of change, reform and positive developments even after serious oppression in the Zia’s regime.
So where did the Pakistani feminist go wrong? Is feminism in Pakistan having any value or the reforms and oppression of women is just for political scoring? To understand this we must first realize the difficulty of the task these organizations have undertaken. In a land where faith believes a women’s witness as half of a man. In which the obedience of the female is a behavior programmed from birth and throughout upbringing, not only that but the feminists in Pakistan doing wrong is that they are working for the elite class of the society and lower class family is not receiving the reward of the of rights given in constitution. There is need to do work in a lower socio economic strata.
About Author: Ijlal Hussain is from Gilgit and is Student.He/She can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org