Stories about gender equality

Why I shared the #ChaiWala’s picture

The piercing blue eyes. The stubble and the moustache. The attractive indifference. Blissfully unaware of the fact that thousands are ogling at him, he has become the hottest (pun intended) topic of debate, and has taken the internet by storm. Bad start to the blog? I can already hear echoing disapproving remarks in my head that I have been reading on Facebook walls of friends. We over-read and over-intellectualise everything nowadays. I do too. This is why I thought many times before I posted the undeniably handsome chaiwala’s picture. Should I post it? Or not? And why exactly am I ...

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Skirting the real issue

In a long line of Indian ministers (past and present), each has focused more on sycophancy and less on efficiency. But there’s a current joker in the pack – it is not what he does, instead his words just happen to always speak louder than his actions. Meet Mahesh Sharma, a first time member of Parliament from the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), who in his dominant avatar as India’s culture minister, is setting some benchmarks that should never be emulated. Since discretion is not his forte, Sharma’s new gem has been a far from polite advisory to foreigners visiting India. In ...

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2016 elections: A pivotal moment in US history

The US presidential election is amongst the most anticipated and commented upon political events in the world, and rightfully so. After all, the US president is widely regarded as the most powerful man, or maybe for the first time this year, woman in the world.  Every four years, the country gears up for a long drawn electoral battle that goes through various stages to culminate in a grand contest between the Democratic and Republican candidates, with the occasional maverick independent thrown in. There have been some remarkable personalities who have stood for, and won, the US presidential election. There have also been some memorable rivalries, ...

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Mommy tips: How to raise a mini activist

When we hear the word “activist”, we immediately think of khadi clad, jhola carrying men and women braving water cannons and lathi charges. But an activist is one who campaigns for social change of any kind, someone who identifies the rot in society and speaks about it. There are various degrees of activism and similarly various ways of showing dissent. Thomas Jefferson said, “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism” and any thriving society needs such voices. Such conscientious persons are not born but raised. One might feel that preteens are too young to grapple the socio-political dynamics of a complex society, ...

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Thank you Abba, for making me the woman I am

It’s been almost nine years since Abba left us. I have written much about Ammi since then, about how she did not take his going so well, about her dementia. But I have somehow avoided writing about my father. Perhaps there is too much to write and it is difficult, even for someone like me, for whom words come easy. In the last few years of his life, his health was flailing and he knew. He started to wrap things up, though he loved life and fought for it till the end. In that twilight phase, what came up repeatedly was ...

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What is the older generation’s obsession with the word ‘compromise’ when it comes to marriage?

Marriage has too many complicated stereotypes attached to it. The more obvious ones include what the rishta aunties say all the time: “Apki beti khana pakati hai?” (“Does your daughter cook?”) “Apki beti lambi hai?” (“Is your daughter tall?”) “Apki beti ziyada umer mein bari tou nahi?” (“Your daughter isn’t too old, is she?”) “Apki beti zeyada tou parhi likhi nahi hai?” (“Your daughter isn’t ‘too educated’, is she?”) The aunties want their sons to be the ones who run the show — the girl shouldn’t be too smart, too educated. She has to be just the right amount of literate. Also, she should definitely know how to cook ...

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Is Justin Trudeau’s cabinet as big a kick to sexism as imagined?

Justin Trudeau’s appointment as Canada’s new prime minister has generated an incredible response from the global community. Whether it’s his photogenic good looks, or his demeanour as the down-to-earth friend of the people, Trudeau has not only given the Canadian society a whiff of optimism, he has made headlines the world over. As someone who apparently can do no wrong at the moment, his decision to appoint a cabinet divided equally between men and women has only added admiration for him. When asked the reason giving half of the spots within his cabinet to women, he remarked, “Because it’s 2015!” The statement has already caught on ...

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When Emma met Malala: The discourse on gender equality crosses borders

Malala Yousafzai’s He Named Me Malala, a film based on Malala’s life and her struggle for girls’ education, has been released all over the world. Emma Watson, actress and United Nations’ Goodwill Ambassador, who also spearheads United Nations #HeForShe movement that involves men and boys to work towards gender equality, met Malala and these two extraordinary women sat down and spoke for a few minutes. Their discussion encapsulates how the discourse on gender equality should move forward. Malala and Emma speak at length about the problems with the word ‘feminist’ and how this word sometimes has negative connotations. Malala speaks about her father who has been ...

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Women’s Excellence Month: The shushing and shaming ends now

No matter how much the world wants to, it cannot sweep women under the carpet, dust off its hands and pretend it never happened. Gender equality is still an issue. But the misogynists would have you believe otherwise. Even though the world has advanced in various fields, human rights seem to be the point where evolution screeches to a halt. I have had my fair share of confrontations with patriarchy. There were times when my strength surprised me. And there were times when I hung my head in resignation. Every woman knows that when she stands in a ring against ...

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Let’s address our own double standards before blaming Ayaan Ali

The University of Karachi (KU) has been home to intellectual discussions and scholarly rendezvous since time immemorial. Academic finesse is ubiquitous here and I have always found myself inspired while walking through its corridors and thinking about all the greats who have walked the same path before me. The university has had the privilege to host esteemed guests at its various ceremonies – it has seen the likes of Haseena Moin, Ibne Insha, Zia Mohyeddin and many other legends who have come and inspired students with their lectures. Contemporary celebrities like Fawad Khan, Mahira Khan, Kamila Shamsie, Sania Saeed, Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan and others have also recently shown their support ...

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