The not-so-desperate housewives

Published: November 18, 2011

These women contribute more to society than lawn-buying housewives! PHOTO: REUTERS

Steve Jobs is dead. There was a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States. Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier, will be released against the freedom of over a thousand Palestinians. There are a huge bunch of protesters that have occupied Wall Street. The Yemeni president is back. 28 people are dead in Baghdad. Thismakes the total Iraq body count well over ten thousand in less than ten years. And somewhere in Pennsylvania, a paralyzed man high-fived just using his thoughts.

None of these possibly world-changing events matter to the average Pakistani housewife.

Call it what you may, but most Pakistani women are struggling to find their identities in a world that confuses them more than ever. Here’s a fact that proves it: a report records that female labor force participation rate is 45% in rural areas and 17% in urban areas. That means that what all Pakistani wives do, once they get educated to  become doctors and engineers, is pretty much squat.

Parents push women to work harder in school and become model students. However, once they do end up being good students they step into the rishta age where they realize that they got that MBBS degree so that Mrs X could find them worthy of her son.

On the rural front, housewives aren’t simply just baby-making machines. They’re programmed to do a whole lot more, from a very young age. It’s a cultural trend and a documented fact that women contribute to almost half of the agricultural work done in rural areas.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Not unlike Butterfly, a hilarious character created by Moni Mohsin, most Pakistani housewives are obsessed with designer lawn, what Shaista Wahidi is wearing on her morning show, attending committee parties, endless socializing, finding good nannies and maids for their children, complaining about how inflation has increased and how impossible it is to find good stilettos around Eid time.

The mind boggles at the amount of brainlessness found in these educated, refined, well-bred women who went to good schools and ended up with more philosophy than practicality. Looking at the values these women have, the respect for the sunburnt woman working in the fields with a baby on her hip grows by leaps and bounds.

Sure they’ll pick up a hobby or a part-time job that helps them kill the hours and gives them a productive chance to show off how cleverly they put together their latest designer shirts and shoes. There’s little dedication or thought paid to how they can actually, positively and wholesomely contribute to the country (apart from writing vicious blogs such as these).

Something also needs to be said about the Islamization or the ‘women-must-not-work’ mantra. One can find similar educated, refined, well-bred men who don’t want their wives to work half out of fear of what it will do to their pockets (work-clothes wardrobes can’t come cheap) and half out of adhering to the stereotype of bringing home the bacon.

This in no way means that bringing up children and taking care of the house is an ordinary job. It’s a full time job all in its own, however, thanks to the wonderful support groups Pakistan offers to women, a lot of women find time to while away the hours watching Star Plus and the Sahir Lodhi show religiously instead of doing something far, far more meaningful. Thanks to the nannies, maids and all the other friends and family who help us out with our children, we can easily spare an hour or so to do something for Pakistan and its people. Surely we can, with high-sounding degrees tucked under a belt, contribute at least as much as that hard-working woman who’s picking corn and wheat and rice, come rain, come shine?

There needs to be a conscious change in our people. If we actually want the common man to improve the country and pick it up from its bootstraps, let’s all be assured that Zulfiqar Mirza and Shaista Wahidi aren’t the one’s who will enable this. Change needs to start from amongst us.

We keep asking the question:

“What can we do?”

Here is the answer. We can stop thinking that we have to topple the government to bring about a change in the growing dilapidation of the state of affairs. Housewives wouldn’t go out on street anyway; it would totally ruin their Fair and Lovely induced complexions. So isn’t it much more convenient, fellow women, to actually use the degree you spent years slaving over? And instead of the obvious use of the degree of snagging a husband, isn’t it infinitely better to start working for an NGO? Why not to use that masters degree in public health, or volunteer at that free clinic, or help a school by using your engineering degree and teaching students some maths? For free, preferably?

Charity begins at home and change can stir from a single person.

How about you choose to spend some time helping the people of your country instead of stuffing your face with cucumber sandwiches at Sind Club. Just imagine what a change can erupt if the numbers of women in the work force were to rise dramatically over the next ten years. Yes, it won’t stop the corrupt practices of politicians, but what if the time you take out can enable a running income for a beggar who has been taught how to repair an AC? Yes, we won’t strike oil in Pakistan but what if that one hour you spend every day Facebook-stalking random people is spent teaching a poor child what Facebook is?

What if we could do our part and not be a dead statistic any more?


Mahwash Badar

The author is a clinical psychologist, a mum to two boys and permanently in a state of flux. She tweets @mahwashajaz_ (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Amna

    women not working is not “Islamization”. how about you learn about the religion before you use cliched words. Hazrat Khadija was a businesswoman before and after her marriage…and her life was the height of Islamization…. There is ignorant “educated” housewives the world over…..its just that in Pakistan its a part of our culture….dont blame it on my religion thanks….Recommend

  • muhammad farhan aziz

    A change in the mentality of pakistani women is needed.they need to let go of freeloading off their male family members as their aim in life.our women take mufta off their brothers and husbands and feel no shame in not working.even after they’ve had a masters or bachelors degree they are extremely satisfied sitting at home and wasting their education.
    they have no ambition,no willpower to have a lifelong career.say what you will about the maghrabi women but atleast they work,they take care of themselves instead of acting like pathetic damsels in distress waiting for their brothers or husbands to pay for their every expense.The western ladies our society loves to hate so much have careers as well as raise’s time our women got out of their addiction of mufta off the husband’s income and started earning their own living.Recommend

  • Taimoor

    Finally, something worth reading and sharing from this author! Keep it up.Recommend

  • Ava

    Yes someone preferably female high profile women in the public eye on television need to educate these so called elite women in Pakistan and not so elite women who just sit at home and do nothing. They are totally hopeless. They have no sense of reality and responsibility. All they do is sit at home, watch stupid shows like Friends, pakistani dramas, roam around shopping malls and spend someone elses hard earned money. Recommend

  • kemal

    Heres to me hoping that your hallowed words are heard by any future WIFE of mine. :PRecommend

  • Ahmed

    Best blog in a long long time. Enough said.Recommend

  • Sana

    If only…Recommend

  • me

    True that ! Well said Ms Badar !Recommend

  • G

    you only talk about the ‘rich’ housewives.What about the middle and lower class?Recommend

  • powerball

    finally something worth reading on this site.. totally agree with you. I wish women would stop obsessing over morning shows, designer cloths & their social life and do something productive for the society! Recommend

  • Sarah B. Haider

    Nice article and most of the points raised are true. However, I agree with Amna about the Islamization part.Recommend

  • Hamid Javaid

    Love this article. But this nation is in utter denial of fact and realities. Most of upper class families sent their girls to collages/universities for husband hunting. Once the target is achieved they become house wifes (pretty complexing get more success) and economics cycle is only driven by males. Not only males, females are also very hyprocratic. Women how are working in NGOs for the rights of women in our society is a classic drama to extract funds from western funding agencies and send back cut and paste report to funding agencies.

    To improve your country and to understand the hardship through which developed nation have gown through. We must at least make mandatory for every educated men and women to serve at least two years in their specialization sector before they actually given degree. Similarly, under graduates and graduates must do three months of traffic warden etc, serev with Edhi or like trusts etc or volunteer for jobs of their choice to make them learn the ethics of system created for the society and nation as a whole. This will change the country dramatically in positive direction. It only “Will” that is required. We have enough of house, round table, TV shows etc which are very interesting to see.

    Having gown through your nice article it appears there are some living flames left who call as spade a spade.Recommend

  • AM

    Excellent Article. after a long time i have read something so meaningful on this blog. would suggest the ED to also give it some place in the paper as it might make a difference in a few women life. maybe just maybe.Recommend

  • RK

    I m not speaking here just for myself but also for countless other well-educated females I know who have given up their career to be not just a ‘housewife’ but a ‘stay-at-home’ mom so that we r able to spend each and evey precious moment of our children’s lives with them and be there for all their triumphs and joys!!!… There are many housewives (mind u I prefer to call them stay-at -home mom) in urban areas who r willing to sacrifice monetary rewards just so they can raise educated, well-behaved and intellectually complete future generation for this country.

    I’m sorry but this is an absolutely close-minded mentality and to think it’s coming from a woman it’s all the more insulting. We maybe sitting at home after all our years of education and job experience but mind u, we r not ‘squatting,!!!!!!…. We do feel the need to dress up well, maintain a certain lifestyle within our means whilst also raising kids ‘without’ maids! Yes, some of us here have considerable years of professional experience but still choose to stay at home now for our kids maybe cause we do not want to leave our kids at day-cares and and with nannies or maids.

    I’m proud of myself, for raising two energetic boys even though I have given up my banking career. I do not have domestic help for kids and I spend Each and every single minute of their lives with them, for them!!! ….blogs likes this one is an insult to females like me and most of the women I know!…..

    The writer I believe certainly hasn’t set her priorities right!!!!!! Or maybe u just don’t know the right women! Recommend

  • RK

    And yes, we also have the thorough info on all that goes on around the world!!!… Be it politics, international relations, sports, economies and of course fashion. Needless to say, u being a woman underestimate your own gender! Recommend

  • RA

    Thought provoking blog. But, we should bear in mind that there is also that percentage of the upper middle class women who are doing a lot for and with the community. Architects, Businesswoman, Designers, Lawyers and Teachers/Professors. Young aspiring women spreading awareness through notable charitable methods. Recommend

  • amrita Yasin

    loved the article.
    I do have respect for the housewives who actually do housework – cleaning, cooking, dishes, grocery shopping – house chores do take a lot, but most of the women don’t deign to get involved in them. Cheap labour in the form of maids and nannies is the reason they have ample time for such frivolities, which they pride themselves on.
    and then the punchline, these very ladies will say to my plans of not marrying until completing my graduation, ‘kia karo gi, aakhir to main handi roti hi karni hai’ Recommend

  • Syed Mauze Rehan


    “women not working is not “Islamization”. how about you learn about the religion before you use cliched words. Hazrat Khadija was a businesswoman before and after her marriage…and her life was the height of Islamization…. There is ignorant “educated” housewives the world over…..its just that in Pakistan its a part of our culture….dont blame it on my religion thanks….”

    well said. That’s the point we fail to understand time and time again, and question religion.Recommend

  • Sanya Shiraz

    Excellent! Keep writing.Recommend

  • maira saleem

    a good one & loadza thngz are true buh i fnk tz nawt sumfnk realy new to da world,datz sumfnk v ppl ve takd loadza tym before & on tv too
    ‘Mad’ is a term we use to describe a man who is obsessed with one idea and nothing else.
    so basicaly dz goez fuh da true wordz ov urz fuh awl da obssesd woman’s out dereRecommend

  • Mahwash Badar

    Mrs. RK, I don’t know if you noted but this blog isn’t directed to women who haven’t gotten the luxury of getting hired help and a support group that allowed them to go watch tv shows that is bubble gum for the eyes. This blog is directed to the many women who let their ‘need of maintaining a standard of life/certain lifestyle’ take over every other thing in their lives. This blog is directed to those who have ample time to sit and gossip but cannot take out the time to go and teach a child his ABCs. There’s nothing wrong with being a housewife, I encourage you to see that and don’t take this as an insult to mothers and housewives.

    Why would in God’s name would I want to insult SAHMs and sans-support-group-housewives when I am one myself?

    I believe that women should contribute to the society in ways more than just being stay-at-home moms because women are incredibly powerful and yes children are hard work but if we can get time to watch mindless television surely we can spare an hour a week to spend at an orphanage to read to some kids?Recommend

  • Rida Shariq

    The fact that a large percentage of women laugh at the countless articles written about women and their obsession with lawn, is saying something. That is, that not all of our lives are scheduled around the next lawn exhibition by Gul Ahmed. And even if we are lawn what? Women like clothes, shoes and accessories and there is nothing wrong with that. And most of us do not get these degrees just to snag a husband – surely, you’d have noticed you don’t really even need a highly qualified degree to qualify as a “good rishta” Bus degree hai to kaam chal jaye ga. And like you said, raising children and taking care of the family is a full time job that leaves little time to keep updated with all that is going on in the world – I’ve seen it with the moms in my family. I agree with you that we must participate more than just writing blogs and leaving comments on blogs but the picture you have painted of the modern housewife is not accurate. Recommend

  • faraz khalid

    the sick obsession of islamic fanatics of keeping women strictly locked up as prisoners behind the chaar diwari is most distressing.the maulvis preach that a woman should not have a career,that she should be kept in effect as a domestic pet of sorts,always to be locked up and hidden from the world’s view,even when the women get a chance to get out of their houses their male family members imprison them behind black cloth.

    this caveman mentality of our religious extremists of thinking of women as their personal property belongs in the dark ages.It’s time we started treating women as equal human beings,equal to men in all spheres of life.Recommend

  • Hamid Javaid


    Please read this. “On the rural front, housewives aren’t simply just baby-making machines. They’re programmed to do a whole lot more, from a very young age. It’s a cultural trend and a documented fact that women contribute to almost half of the agricultural work done in rural areas.”

    Its not insult its utter denial of the facts. We can still enjoy the life and achievements of our children, their innocent smiles, naughty moves and upbring them they way we like by introducing flax hours working etc. Please put your efforts and untaped skills to to make this declining nation. you can still at least educate some children freely at home to get rid of illiteracy. Think about that the children of this nation along with your own. Other wise your own house may have beautiful face (energetic boys/literate kids) but rear side (under privileged kids) will be full of junk. We need to stand to gather to make this country livable and enjoyable for all.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Great subject, great read.Recommend

  • maria

    the main issue is not to change the womenz mentality,rather it is t change the “MENZ MENTALITY”………who want a profesional degree holder as a wife (i.e dr,engineer,mba etc) but soon after they get married n done with all the praise they get for being married to such a qualified person,it becomes issue of their EGO n MANHOOD to not let their wives work……………seriously what kinda sick mentality it is?if u want a housewife marry a gal with a simple masters or bachelors degree then…………they dont leave a choice for their wives……….n no woman wants to break her home on carieer issue specially in our society…………where no one supports it…….!!!!
    n i often find it hilarious when people point to an educated gal who was working before marriage n not after n point their finger “oh,u rnt practising,tum ney aik seat zaya ker di”…………..seriously,r u people so dumb to understand what pressure is there on her so that she quit the thing that she spent most of her life on till now……….Recommend

  • Someone

    @Amna Well said… the author needs to realize that this phenomenon of Housewives socialising is pretty much common throughout the world and is not only practiced in our societty. I am not saying this is a good practice and frankly I hate morning shows but that being said please show the whole picture.
    And why do we need to drag Islam in it… please do read the Quran for once and then comment on your so called “Islamization”.
    And apart from that I want the housewives to become better mothers because it is their responsibility to bring up an educated NAtion.Recommend

  • Forbidden Fruit

    I like the thoughts, but the matronly tone simple bothers me!Recommend

  • Aaf

    First things first. What’s wrong with the picture is that these are real women, not models (I can clearly recognise one of them) and if their photo has been put up without their consent it is unfair and in bad taste.

    Many of your points are valid (especially the obsession with designer clothes) but a deeper discussion is needed on this topic to do it justice, e.g. you do not address the intense social pressure and expectations that accompany playing the role of a ‘good’ wife and mother in a well-to-do family. Also, why is independent business or entrepreneurship (even if it is in designing clothes) not good for the country? And why do you assume that NGOs are looking for housewives to donate some of their time? The development sector has evolved significantly over the years and most NGOs now look for a proper, full-time workforce. Similarly, teaching is not the profession it used to be: there is much more emphasis now on hiring full-time, trained professionals in educational institutions. These things limit the scope of activity outside the home and I feel such factors should be considered when writing on this topic. Skimming over it only serves to demonise the housewife/stay-at-home-mother and, ironically, make a case for women NOT to go for higher education – and I’m sure that’s not at all what you’ve set out to do.Recommend

  • Zee

    We must not forget that there IS a class of urban women who are working in government hospitals, offices, family planning centres, government schools, etc. and proving themselves useful over time. My mother used to leave behind her 3 children at home and go out to change that one bit of society she could. Proud of you, mom!Recommend

  • Said Chaudhry

    They do contribute to the economy by organizing lunches at restaurants for their committee meets though.Recommend

  • Aurangzeb

    i have yet to see a degree holder woman who genuinely believes she MUST have to make her career for her survival. subconsciously, all women believe ultimately they would be freeloading their men for their financial needs. and i agree with you that women in rural areas are more hardworking and they genuinely work for their survival. Recommend

  • Faz

    Rightly addressed issue.I would like to share some thoughts over the topic.

    In general, its not only women, men too are a part of limited “casted” roles in our society, and the expectations from each other are built on similar lines of these stereotyped roles, pushing each other further into playing those acts, be it a mother-son, father-daughter, sister-brother or a husband-wife relation. Education for the sake of education and learning will bring the change one day. We are too much into norms and social pressure of being true to eastern culture.
    As for *What can we do? *
    The roles of men and women should be directed towards complimenting not competing each other. It is not necessary that women participate actively and directly in public sphere of life just for the sake of leaving their own mark and impression to be noticed, though i don’t say there is anything wrong in it. Women have their own strengths; their patience being one of them; and a special influence they posses over men, in all kind of relationships. So they should learn to exercise and explore that effectively and perhaps this way they can bring about a major poisitve change and contribution to the soceity. Though not so news-making kind of contribution yet women can recreate a domain of their own rule and their own dominance where men seek their guidance, their opionion, their trust and a their respect, as the saying goes, ” men rule the world, but women rule men”. Recommend

  • sara

    @rk, how are stay at home mums any better? what do u think they do when their kids are at school? call up their friends and gossip, bitch about their mom in law or sister in law, grumble about their servants and their tailors, watch tv, worry about their clothes and trips to the salon, and engage in family politics if they live in a joint family. i know b/c there was a point in my life when i used to telecommute and the women in my house drove me insane with their bitching. thank god i finally changed my job and now im out of my house. women are the reason i prefer male company, at least they provide excellent, intelligent and educated conversationRecommend

  • Kit

    This is easily one of the most patronizing and reductive pieces I have ever set eyes on. Can you really make a value judgement on the lives of all these supposedly brainless women without in any way taking into account the oppressive, patriarchal society they exist in? Instead of urging them to grow a spine, urge their husband to put his engorged testicles away and allow a woman to enter the workforce. Staid and labour-free matrimony isn’t a choice for many of these women, it’s the only lifestyle they’ve been brought up to expect. Merely calling them frivolous isn’t going to get them out of the house, you’re going to have to do a bit more towards actually changing our culture.

    (I just skimmed through some of your other articles, most of which seem centered around women and fashion. Get off your high horse and write something about the greater world you mention before you start preaching to the masses. And just as a side note, there was no need for that apostrophe in “one’s”. Maybe you could employ a bored, well educated housewife to correct your grammatical errors for you since you seem largely incapable of stringing together a sentence.) Recommend

  • Shumaila

    I agree with Aaf up there. The issue could have been dealt with more deeply. As it is, it comes across as slightly judgemental. However, I agree that women need consciousness-raising. They need to realise their full potential to become equal players in society and the world. Many are already doing so. But those blessed with opportunities and the liberty to utilise them (i.e., the kind you’re targeting), they have a bigger responsibility on their shoulders, to contribute to society and be part of a change. It is disappointing when they waste that.Recommend

  • Mahwish

    Excellent article. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I agree with you Mahwish on all your points. Keep it up!Recommend

  • Hira Z

    Meaningful and deep..!Recommend

  • Mahwash Badar

    Kit, thank you for going through the rest of my patronizing, condescending, pedantic pieces of blogs that clearly represent my entire personality.

    It’s amazing how commenters here, apart from being outright hateful, often consider themselves the best judges of bloggers. They claim that the blogger doesn’t know anything about anything (or especially abt what the blogger has written) based on the less-than-1000 word article yet go around and pass the same judgment about them in their less than 200 word comment. I am surprised at the amount of condescension that is seen in the comments – believe me they are worse than many blogs you can see for miles of cyberspace.

    So please avoid being judgmental yourself because if you think that I’m being patronizing, you’re guilty of the same crime.

    As for the points you raised against the premise of my blog, please refer to my earlier comment. And if there is more that I can do about getting more husbands with engorged testicles to ‘do more’ about getting their ample-chested wives getting into the work force, please know that I will do so. Or maybe you would like me to write another blog about it?

    Aaf, Shumaila,
    The picture is given by the ET staff, not me, so I can’t say much there.
    The development/service industry indeed has evolved. They are constantly looking for people who would be willing to work with them on part-time or weekly basis. The NGO is just a metaphor, it’s just an example. You don’t have to devote yourself a hundred percent to becoming the CEO of an organization to make a change in the environment.

    I, once again, dearly request the readers to understand what I mean by the blog. I request them to see who it is targeted at. I request the ones who see themselves as targets of the blog to actually go move their energies into action (and I don’t mean leaving a lousy comment here attacking the blogger about how she writes about nothing but brainless balderdash) rather than wasting another day watching tv shows and gossiping with friends about how they hate those darn ET bloggers who know nothing and yet keep getting published.Recommend

  • Ali

    Hahaha. Ms. Author dont you find it very ironical the fact that you yourself just sit at home ( in a far far land), contribute nothing to any society economically, watch American TV shows, keep cribbing about small seemingly insignificant stuff and you are blaming the very same strata of people in which you belong. Shouldnt you go out and find a job before telling others.

    Author is simply looking skywards and spitting by writing this post.Recommend

  • me

    If you’ve read so much about mahwash on her blog , i am sure you’ve also understood that she has a toddler to look after ( and no help ) and that’s why cannot take up a job ? Maybe you’d be willing to babysit for her eh ? i guess she could go out and work then !

    @ Kit- oh, please just zip it !! Do you think all the men in pakistan don’t allow their wives to work > There must be zillions who DONT want to work and just love whiling away time gossiping and shopping. and I refuse to believe there are men who would have a problem with their wives teaching a poor child some math at home and maybe tutor a maid’s kid. So please don’t make excuses for these women , somehow i get a feeling u r one of them.Recommend

  • Amna

    10/10. Period.Recommend

  • muhammad Saad

    a good read!Recommend

  • atika

    I agree with what you’re saying about women working (or not) having nothing to do with Islam but culturally, that’s the way it is portrayed. Women stepping out of the house is unislamic – whether for work or anything else. I believe that’s what the writer is trying to get at.Recommend

  • atika

    Excellent article Mahwash although I wonder if your target audience would even be reading this. The only thing I’d add is that these housewives you speak of would be making a huge difference to society even if they decided to raise their own kids themselves instead of leaving them at the mercy of an army of aayahs. All their education would bear fruit if they put it to use raising their kids even. Anything else they decide to do would be an extra act of goodness. As Napolean said “Let France have good mothers, and she will have good sons.”Recommend

  • Pavan

    V. well thought and written. I laud your philosophy on working women and we must bring the change.
    Great write up. Most of the people don’t get the deep message inside this but this surely is the way to go. I’m glad somebody gave a thought to itRecommend

  • Morning show ka director!

    Why are after my market audience?? Kia bigara hay may nay aap ka??Recommend

  • Maryam

    EXCELLENT SUGGESTIONS! Totally agree with the whole thing. Recommend

  • bushra

    Well written, i am glad that someone has finally raised this issue, n i agree with the author that how well educated, well brought up females end up doing nothing at all after they get married. i wonder where does all their passion, enthusiasm vanish which is usually there in school/ college/ university days! n i have personally witnessed that after graduating from the best business school in karachi that my own class mates. friends are actually making no use of their education, skills and talent! such a waste of resources i must say! i hope articles like these creates some awareness, some encouragement for girls to do something for themselves, this society and this country.Recommend

  • SAK

    I agree with Kat in the fact that its easy to criticise women for loving lawn. How is spending money on extravagent clothes any different from spending it on extravagent food, technological gadgets, cars etc? This article was entertaining at best, and yes, condescending at worst. Though i know what you are saying, i do feel that given the kind of place we live in, some escapes (judge me if you like) are healthy. I do sympathise with alot of these women who might not have the freedoms some of the ‘productive’ ‘hardworking’ ‘contributing’ women in pakistan might have- for unfortunately, our social structures are extremely oppressive, and allow women little mental and physical space that healthy human beings need. They prepetuate oppresion and social control, and by making judgements on those who love their lawn, you are doing the same!
    I am a married, working woman, who married with the condition that i want freediom to choose to work if i wish. Imgaine! this was something to negotiate!??! especially given that my in laws are a liberal, progressive, family. Im extremely happy for my luck, but do believe that other women might not enjoy it. A year or so of sitting home, i might too have employed lawn as an escpae, and would hate people like you writing artcles like this, and denying me the freedom to at least spend my money like i want!!!Recommend

  • SAK

    And reading your responses, im just getting more riled up! Word of advice from one writer to another- criticism is healthy. Replying to them makes you sound bigoted- you cant change peoples opinions, and they cant change yours. This is not a debate, its a ‘comments section.’ Grow up!Recommend

  • HK

    @Kit: Wow!!!!! Reading this post was bothering me at so many levels but your response took care of everything!!! Thanks!! Recommend

  • Shajia

    What a fantastic article! It’s bang-on accurate and a delight to read. That’s rare for the Express Tribune, but I’m glad the standards are improving.Recommend

  • Mubashir

    an articulate piece. this speaks volumes. thanks for writing this mahwashRecommend

  • Zehra

    Easier said than done. Some women arent ALLOWED to step out, as you’ve also pointed out. Others just may not be interested. Face it. Not everyone’s cut out to get out there and make a difference. Only special kinds of WOMEN are even interested.Cant push them can we? Women who have the ability and the aptitude to do so, dont need any articles/blogs pushing them to take the plunge. They’re already motivated. Recommend

  • SF

    Thought provoking article. i agree with amna though. As for Mr. Aurangzeb, taking care of the house and ones children is not “freeloading” its called a “marriage”. u give some and u get some.Recommend

  • Shama

    Its a well written article, but the role of the government has too easily been cut-off. When you have persistent water and power failures to deal with, absolutely no security to round off the day, constant bad news on t.v, how do you manage to forget everything and just move out to bring a change? I completely agree, that we need not look for a hero, but rise above our circumstances, but that will be possible only in an environment that kindles safety, security and justice. This is not about men and women, its about a country that needs to meet the basic needs of its people to lend some motivation to move forward….
    Having said that, I enjoyed reading it and wish to read some more thought-provoking articles from you…Keep it up!Recommend

  • Wow

    thanks for not posting my comment ET! grr!Recommend

  • Saba

    Women are capable of much more. We do not have to be a part of our kids’ lives every single minute of the day. That would make the kids totally dependent on us. In Pakistan, children go off to school for 2-3 hours a day from the age of 2.5. I do not live in Pakistan and my son will go to school at 5! But I might put him in preschool because I don’t want him at home all day doing nothing, watching TV and getting bored because he’s the only child. What do women in Pakistan do after the kids are gone to school? How much time does it take to cook a meal or two in one day? There is at least ONE masi in almost every middle class home in Pakistan. So women don’t have to sweep floors, wash dishes, wash bathrooms, dust the furniture, etc. WHAT DO THEY DO ALL DAY?

    I get up, take my son to day care, sit at Starbucks while he is there and work (I am a programmer). I pick him, come back home, put him down for a nap, and work while he is sleeping. Then I cook food, vacuum the house, and work. Yes, I work every single minute that I can find free. Once or twice a week, I have to wash the two bathrooms in the house. Dusting, every morning and every night. Groceries every week. Sometimes I clean out the car. I drive to the bank to deposit any checks, and any other official work. I don’t watch TV, I don’t get the time. I take my son to the playground every other day too.

    I make half our household income. I make the food. I take care of my son 99% of the time. He only goes to day care so he can interact with other kids. I clean, cook, and do the laundry. And I am sure, I slack sometimes here and there and can do more. Just like any other woman.

    What does the average woman in Pakistan do all day?Recommend

  • MFZ

    An interesting article. The call to action instead of complaint is something we do need.

    I wish you had spent more time on the structural reasons many women don’t work, including pressure from their families, in laws, husbands, etc. The issue is much more complex than women being parasites on society and not contributing. Part of this discussion needs to be creating awareness that having an educated wife who does not contribute to society is not a status symbol. Recommend

  • FB Junkie

    Great read! If you enjoyed reading this, you might also enjoy this blog post about how popping babies in foreign lands is the ‘oh-so-in-thing’ to do!Recommend

  • Rushda

    @Aurangzeb: “subconsciously, all women believe ultimately they would be freeloading their men for their financial needs”

    Are you for real? I’m sorry Freud but what exactly do you base this theory on? I agree and disagree with the article on many levels but I would never tag anybody’s wife a ‘Free Loader’. Who tare you earning for? your family right? Why don’t you just abandon them all because they’re ‘Freeloading you’? What you actually MEANT to say was that you would prefer a slave who cooks and cleans after you, raises your kids without any help and you don’t have to pay her in return of her services because its her freaking responsibility, she should also have a means of earning at the same time so she can pay for electricity bills which you had nothing to do with of course because you were at work!


  • Ali

    @Me (ohh the irony)
    In most of the places, working career-oriented women get back to their job after 3-4 months of delivery. I am sure the author has gone past that stage. I dont think so my services would be needed as the author seems very much capable of finding a maid/help/day-care to take care of the baby. But this is only if she is willing to do so. Work/life balance is an illusion. It is a tradeoff, and it comes at a price. You can’t do everything in life. If raising children is your primary goal in life, your career is going to take a hit, no matter what the government or the businesses do to help you.
    So instead of preaching something which the author doesnt herself practice, she should find a help for her child and a job for herself. Recommend

  • lightning

    Mrs Rk n those getting offended, i would honestly want to ask u all one thing…if u r sacrificing so much for your kids, what isthe state of children in our society currently? Childrrn r more into watching cartoon network n cable tv all day. A good majority of them are more focused n happy with having a birthday party at some posh locality. Children nowadays r hardly reading much, most r hardly aware of whats happening around them, let alone the world. If u ask any child, they will know all latest mini-pornography known as indian cinemas, but wont know anything abt any other thing at all. I am not being personal, just telling u my observation of kids in these so-called high class families who go to really posh schools…Recommend

  • zalim singh

    Gossiping is great passtime for Pakistani and Indian HWs..Recommend

  • khan

    I read through about a quarter of the article and decided to write my own comment… so spare me if i’m way off topic.

    i’m 24, educated college graduate holding 2 degrees. but i refuse to work.. and i will most likely be a housewife if i ever do get married. now let me assure you my family has never stopped me from doing anything i have wanted.. so its MY decision not to do so. I come from a wealthy family, my life is set for me, i have an income. Why do I need to work? If i do my bit of helping out the needy. i give charity.

    is there anything wrong with me? I think not. i just choose to live a comfortable life, and do what i can to help others who need it. Recommend

  • Maryiam Sheikh

    For the housewives that have been offended, and affluent housewives that are screaming foul for not being allowed to doll up, i feel for you birds!!! how dare the author forget that you are suppressed little doves that have been locked up by the patriarchs of the society.

    How dare she hope that after reading her blog you will start giving an hour to your maid’s daughter after she is done scrubbing the floors, Does the author not know that such an act will make your husbands/brothers/ fathers in law’s testicles fall off.

    How dare she hope that you will find it in your hearts to not buy that 5thousand ruppees lawn/linen suit but instead pay for your driver’s son’s computer certificate helping him land a better job so that his 50 year father wont have to carry your brats 20 kg bags on their way back to school.

    What an outrageous piece. What a hopelessly ridiculous bantering.

    a special note for the author from my side.

    respect for the author for bringing this back to our attention for the upteempth time, some times a message just needs hammering in, and hammering a whole god damn lot! so if some of you find her other work as a regular banter, please excuse her if the readers didn’t buckle up the first time she gave an outraged cry .Recommend

  • Nouman Qureshi

    the society is turning into an anti- male society…….i wudnt dare to stop my wife from working….i wudnt dare to speak to her in a laud voice…….so this whole ego and manhood crap can be laid to rest….nd im with amna on the ‘islamizatrion’ comment u made……its to do with the individuals…..if they step out of the house nd considered unislamic…then by who?…..nd do u really need to care by who if ur man is ok?…..just a little logic…..raom around karachi nd islamabad…..are girls really afraid of the men around them?…..i dont think so…not anymore…..cheersRecommend

  • Sidrah

    Excellent article! Couldn’t agree more, pls do part two of this article and focus on husbands becz they are equally culprit in such non sence attitudeRecommend

  • AFK

    Yes indeed, it is the mindset of our women that is in dire need of positive change, to contribute to society. This fashion craze is not going to take us anywhere. These days all a girl thinks is how i handle my guy??what should i wear on my wedding day??how should i pose on my mayyun to put up as as my facebook. Trust me if we girls wont think of pursuing the careers we have studied hard for,or raising kids properly in case of being housewives, we are never going to head towards the much needed right direction. Gossip is OUR favorite pass-time and we can not let go of any chance to bitch about anyone.If this phenomenon continues the lives of our generation wont be different from ours rather will be actually worse than now.Recommend

  • MM

    Well firstly i’d like to congratulate the writer for such a brilliant piece of work.
    Though there have been some points that have been ignored,but the overall blog is presenting the real picture of a modern day average Pakistani housewife.
    Her designer clothes,formal dinners( in which her husband’s colleagues are invited with their wives so they all can impress each other with what their husband’s have gifted to them on their birthdays),imported cosmetics and a career( making clothes for their fellow snobs and calling themselves ‘Designers’) are some of the traits of our favourite high society housewife( making the average middle class housewife insecure enough to copy their high society counterparts).
    One should not even bring up religion in all this hypocrisy?They are all far away from religion because our religion teaches us to be down to earth and modest. This is just a matter of showing off!! Religion has nothing to do with housewives sitting home and acting like some royal princesses with their ‘kamaane khaane walay’ husbands paying the bills.
    And these well bred snobs are the outcome of the culture we all have adopted.This is but our society who have TRAINED them to be like that.As in the blog,they all have been trained by their parents to get good scores so they get admission in a medical college(just to get a good ‘rishta’) and once they achieve their goal (rishta) they are to act like these overly praised housewives we have already described above.
    Me being a doctor knows that how many of my fellows have gotten admission in a medical college to become a good responsible citizen and are playing their part. The answer is hardly any.And to top it all off,the average Pakistani husband only want their wives to act like Mrs’X’ and shouldn’t go out working when they are getting everything right there sitting home.Is there any point doing a job when your husband is providing you all the luxuries?
    The overall mentality should be changed, we talking about them teaching a poor child?why not we ask them not to keep one as their ‘naukar’??and how they then behave with them.
    One can only wonder what kind of future generation we going to have with mothers like these.Recommend

  • ayesha

    “If you’ve read so much about mahwash on her blog , i am sure you’ve also understood that she has a toddler to look after ( and no help ) and that’s why cannot take up a job ? Maybe you’d be willing to babysit for her eh ? i guess she could go out and work then !”

    You are judgmental about stay at home mothers while being one yourself. In US, UK a lot of women with a toddler are indeed in the workforce unlike you. The society in these countries does not judge women as selfish for leaving their kids and entering the workforce. In Pakistan, most women who do not have access to a nanny have to deal with not just the logistical issues you refer to but also family and social disapproval.

    It is interesting that you react so fiercely to any women who write a critical comment about your blog so fiercely while having nothing to say about so many guys here who have painted all urban women with the same brush and describe them as freeloaders.

    You have tried to imply with the statistics that 83% of urban women do nothing better with their time than watching Star Plus shows and attending lawn shows whereas barely 2-3$ of women fall into that category.The rest may not be in the workforce due to reasons such as:
    – having young kids but no help
    – not having qualifications to find a job since their parents did not educate them well unlike their brothers
    – social and family mandate to wear niqaab which significantly reduces their ability to find gainful employment
    – social disapproval if they interact with non-family men without mehrams
    – absence of jobs period. You perhaps are not aware of the degree of unemployment even for Pakistani men in cities – what to talk of women.

    Your article just smacks of jealousy for the few elite Pakistani women who sport the lifestyles you descibe and utter condescension fos most of your urban sisters who have less logistical support (you probably have access to quality daycares in your country which these women do not) and far greater social barriers than you do.Recommend

  • Nauman khan

    I am glad to see such a beautiful article. I agree with Amna, Rk and maria. I am a professional my self and so is my wife. She is working in the field and i always encouraged her. What i know is that most women they want to waste themselves and their aim of life is only to get married and enjoy by sitting at home. Which is not something bad but unhealthy for the society. Women has limited their mentality and are not thinking beyond this and why not, let all the donkey work be done by their husbands and enjoy the star plus whole day at home. So please stop blaming males and today women are no more sacred of men. CheersRecommend

  • Nauman khan

    Women are not sacred of men but they prefer to sit home watch tv whole day and let the donkey work to be done by men. I like amna, Rk and maria comments. Its nothing to do with men in the current society nor with islamization. Please dont blame the males but the pathetic, lazy, rusted, narrow and blame game mentality of the women onlyRecommend

  • Fahad

    Written by women, for women. Classic…Recommend

  • KC

    Apart from being very judgmental and condescending, your article rests on the premises that the lawn buying Pakistani housewife’s contribution to society is scant, but one does not have to be a part of the workforce in order to contribute to society. There are other ways to make a difference and raising a child well enough so that he/she may be able to be self sufficient in the future is also a contribution. Speaking from a strictly economic point of view, the purchase of goods and services is also an economic stimulus, hence women who purchase lawn periodically also contribute to the economic well being of society. Your article would have had a lot more resonance for me if it spoke solely about the educated women of Pakistan who are not a part of the workforce for whatever reasons, without labeling and generalizing to this extent. Contribution to society is very subjective. Recommend

  • Mango

    How about being kind to fellow female kind?

    Do you think you can understand someone who spends years to build a career only to realize that being a Stay at home mom is also important while children are young. So what if she has hired help? So what if she has preferance for designer clothes? If you judge her by just social conversation you are just scratching at the surface. In any case Is the rest of our country more profound? And if you think she has ‘wasted’ her education maybe you need to open yourmind about education itself. Utilizing education has little to do with a 9/5 job.Recommend

  • Lubna Raja

    Before we go all jumping over these women, let us pray that they shop some more. For what they buy, someone is selling. What they are selling was made by someone. That meant livelihood. Let us hope that they can buy some more and contribute to the overall growth of the nationRecommend

  • Lubna Raja

    Actually you are wrong to assert “imagine what a change it would be if these women are to enter the workforce”

    As we know it, unemployment in Pakistan stands at around 25% and is some of the highest in the World. This is because our economy can not provide enough jobs. If these women also enter the marketplace, they will add to unemployment. In fact they can better contribute by continuing to buy and creating more demand for goods and therefore jobs.Recommend

  • Custard Pie Chucker

    Part of me feels guilty about agreeing with the woman-bashing in the article. But hey, it makes a nice change from the usual man-bashing and is pretty much spot-on.

    However, this sort of behavior is not limited to Pakistani women, we have our fair share of fair-maiden leeches in the UK and the toxic day-time television programs are much worse here. Women here are either being reminded how awful men are, or how dull, loveless and mundane their lives are, or how they are missing out on the latest fad or fashion.Recommend

  • Maryum

    I totally agree with you Mahwash…our women need to find something better to keep themselves busy!:)Recommend

  • Md

    Just out of curiosity,bhow many underprivileged children of Pakistan have you educated so far for free?Recommend

  • Dante

    What’s “MENZ”? I couldn’t find this word in my dictionary.

    @The Author:
    Please learn to accept criticism.

    The blog is not insulting to anyone. It’s simply an expression of opinion of the contributing author. She feels that the educated women in Pakistan are not contributing a fair share to the economy. She does not come barging at your doorstep to tell you how you have been slacking off.Recommend

  • marium

    i have nothing against u..but u seem to be sexist only bec its the new in thing!! I am a doctor, so r most ppl in my family, but trust me our professions have kept us away from marriage and we are glad!! Stop generalizing…STOP BLoGGING….Recommend

  • http://Q Charlotte


    i read the article and i found it truth. But then i read these comments and i got confused. I am western wife from BG having pakistani husband. Please, hopefully nobody will get offended by my question. Let me explain, we have twins – six years old girls. My family was always on the first place so i was at home with them until they have started visiting school. I spent every day with them without even single help. We do not have culture of joint family. Nobody ever watched my babies for single hour. They visit regularly school now so it was time to go back to job. I never even thought not to do so .. i mean what would i do whole day at home? I work only 4,5 hrs Part time job is perfect, it provides me enough money for my extra expanses and enough time to manage all housework, prepare good dish for my family and etc.
    So i would like to just ask those moms with older kids..what are you doing whole day if your kids are already at school during the day? Do you really think couple of hrs per week (i think the author suggested even less time) would affect your family (bringing up the kids, housework, time with husband, parents)?
    I am sorry for interrupting your discussion i love Pakistani culture and Pakistan. I wish you all nice day and sorry for my grammar mistakes. My native language is frenchRecommend

  • Sidrah

    Could this article BE more condescending? I agree with what you are trying to say but goodness me, I don’t think you could talk down at these women any more if you tried.Recommend

  • Shazia shaza

    I am still trying to figure out whether the word house wife is a misnomer or not…… I mean 40 years ago it would have made sense since women were raising 7-8 children , there were no microwaves, dishwashers, washing machines, and foods with very long shelf life, or the frozen food for that matter, and a house wife was actually carrying more than her weight…..and for some reason she was able to raise better kids in general…..However in this day and age with all the amenities and support a so called house wife in urban areas is really a rudimentary commodity….. About the social injustice and women being oppressed and all, men are really next in line, the kind of slackers they are in Pakistan, and the fact that they are able to get away with it is sad to say the least……you got to start somewhere though……..I am not trying to critique the housewives extravagant lifestyles but the least they can do is to do their job properly….I mean they can’t even raise decent kids with morals/ good civic sense, values etc….very nice article though…..Recommend

  • Sadiah Ahsan Pal

    The views in this article are spot on ! All these educated housewives could teach for free in schools (as they have so much time and money), or volunteer in hospitals (Pakistan is desperately short of nurses and paramedics).I know doctors who have abandoned their profession to do diplomas in Islam, and believe that a woman’s place is at home
    to serve her husband and family only. Imagine if they spent less on their clothes & committee parties, what a great contribution they can make to the society (as women do in western and other eastern societies)Recommend

  • Uzma

    Huge improvement from your last few blogs :)Recommend

  • sahar syed

    inspiring and well written.

    but they need to be encouraged not only by words ..but also by actions. there should be
    day cares in every office/uni/colleges.

    men do blame women for eating muftas..but when it comes to helping with he house chores..they think of it as a woman’s duty only. They would not have any clue where to deposit their children when the wife is working..they would want dinner right on time even if the wife just came back after working the whole day…and she would be neglecting children if she misses any chore…Recommend

  • AM

    @RK: right now u spent day and night with them, you are literally Living for them, and thats the reason y women expect their kids to live for their Moms when they grow up. if you’ll continue living ur life today u wont have unrealistic expectations from your kids tomorrow. This is the main reason why parents think they own their kids life because they think that if they have spent all their life living for them its now payback time when the kid is all grown up. hence, ” i’ll choose my sons life partner and i’ll tell my daughter what majors she should take” attitude prevails in our society. start living ur own life today and you wont end up being a snobish mother tomorrow. Recommend

  • zubash

    Mahwish iam truly impressed by your article.. this is absolutely true!! i wish the pakistani women could use their time in a constructive way n get some sense of responsibility in them..Recommend

  • hassaan

    man, this writer has a lot to say against ISLAM.
    every article of hers is anti-ISLAMIC.
    im not that much relegiuos either but she has hatred in her words.Recommend

  • Mahvesh Khan

    This is a totally superficial, completely stereotypical view of housewives, whether rich or poor. Before writing such a blog, the author should undertake a research study and discover how many of these demonized housewives are actually running businesses out of their own home. Try catering, designing and computer graphics. Also, find out how many of them are employed as teachers.
    Put the statistics up, prove the claim that “housewives do nothing but waste their education” and then maybe this blog will be worth reading.
    Even if it is discovered that most housewives don’t work (I say “IF” because this is a claim to be proven) consider this:
    Housewives are the EMPLOYERS of numerous labourers eg tailors, gardeners, maidservants, cooks etc. As such, they take a deep interest in the lives of their employees, frequently providing them zero interest loans or aid when required. They even go as far as to educate their children by funding them in schools. Remove the housewife and this whole structure collapses. See what happens to your economy & society then.
    Housewives are the CAREGIVERS of our society. It is the housewives that enable aged parents-in-law and sick children to be taken care of at home instead of at expensive daycare centers and nursing home like the author’s “western women” It is also these housewives that prevent the incidence of western style “Latchkey kids” and issues associated with them.
    Housewives are the GLUE of our society. It is their numerous visits to friends and relatives that enable relationships to be maintained and both emotional and material assistance to be extended when required. In Western societies, this sort of support is bought from psychotherapists at a very high expense so maybe this unpaid work should be recognised!
    By the way, I am a single, working woman but I have managed to use my education to hone my analytical skills and can therefore see various dimensions to a life choice instead of letting pure prejudice determine my attitudes. Recommend

  • Amna

    I am a working woman, and i love buying lawn, and my baby is at home with a nanny for 9 hours in the day, what does that make me?Recommend

  • Fatima

    For those of us living abroad, raising children without the help of maids and ayahs, being productive is a whole different story. Sure we may not be utilizing out degrees to the fullest but being a constant caregiver is by no means a small feat. I chose to quit my job and stay home once my first child was born. I think it a privilege to be able to stay at home and even if it’s under that misnomer of ‘islamization’ I admire that in Islam men step up to the responsibility of being the bread-winners for their family with a certain degree of pride.

    While i really enjoyed this article and agreed with the writer on most points, I just want to clarify that not all stay-at-home moms and wives, especially those residing abroad, our degrees aren’t just gathering dust. We’ve taken up the role of nurturers in this very hope that our involvement in our children’s lives will help them be better human beings- that they may make a more meaningful contribution to the world they live in.Recommend

  • zkkhan

    In an Islamic system women will be encouraged to do work, and their guardians will let them interact within the society because the priority of the society will shift from woman lust and greed towards accomplishing its religious obligations. e.g to do good deeds and refrain from sin, accounting the ruler, earing for their dependants, competing for excellence in science and technology, madicine, economics and all other fields. Recommend

  • Sidra Ahmed Baig

    I understand that if a person doesnt have a lot to do, having nice expensive clothes might make them happy.Everyone has the right to feel good, look pretty and doll up.
    But only if they realize that the designer lawn is just another way of minting money by the designers…..Every two months their is a new line up … aren’t they loving the competition?.
    You can dress stylishly and it doesnt have to cost 7000 a jora….
    This article is not against spending money,,,its about spending money smartly….yes people spend money on gadgets but its because it makes their life a lot easier and working communication a lot easier plus they have a resale value…
    They should realize that the money they spend in one go is coming from their hardworking husband or father so just spend it wisely….Recommend

  • Rida

    While you talked about finding nannies for their children and all, I wish you had stressed more on the women actually taking care of their children, teaching them morals and bringing them up properly. When we talk about how people need to be more educated in this country, that means mothers, and parents in general, need to bring up their children properly. Sure, do things for your country like you’ve mentioned, but this comes first. Because really, people just have children right after they are married without fulfilling the responsibilities attached with it. Fullfilling the needs of children (like good schools and toys and electronic ‘necessities’) has to be balanced with a good upbringing and moral values and giving time to your children.Recommend

  • LPJ

    Ditto. I thought the article was good until I read that sentence. Equating “Islamization” with women not working just left a bad taste in my mouth. The word “Islamization” usually does. People just throw it around, without refleting the implications of its use. Recommend