Stories about gender equality

Let the women of Iran take off their hijabs, give them the right to choose!

Where citizens are forced to abide by the norms of a certain culture, disrespect for that culture for the mere sake of disrespect, becomes a mode of resistance. Thousands of Iranian women are posting pictures of themselves online with their hijabs removed, as part of a rapidly growing movement across the country. Last year, an Iranian journalist, Masih Alinejad, in an act of defiance of her nation’s ultra-conservative culture, posted a picture of herself on Facebook without her hijab. She launched a Facebook group – ‘My Stealthy Freedom’ – which has now snowballed into a movement of over 800,000 followers, inspiring thousands of Iranian women to ...

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Peshawar School for Peace: Making the peacemakers of tomorrow

The barbaric attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar, where innocent souls became victims to mindless horror, still resonated in my head like as if it happened yesterday. The incident left me hopeless, broken and bordering on cynicism. However, recently, that hope was rekindled. In the backdrop of security crises and bloodshed, I came across a project in this beautiful city that made me a believer again. I have been to Peshawar as a kid but as I don’t have any memory of it, I would say that this was my first trip to Peshawar. Like any other person visiting ...

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10 honest marriage vows you never hear at weddings

Love is patient, love is kind, love endures, blah, blah, blah; isn’t it all wonderful? Vowing to persevere through sickness and health, and in wealth and poverty is tradition, and it’s comfortable when associated with lace and roses. But hasn’t it proven to be fairly useless when it comes to forging marriages that last forever? How many people have mouthed the words, “until we are parted by death” while privately plotting to move on as soon as a more attractive option presents itself? Here’s a set of wedding vows with practical merit. They might sound unconventional and unromantic. They’re certainly not poetic, but these ...

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A female taxi driver? Beysharam!

Do you remember the first time you drove? The very first time? When you had the ability to control a vehicle, the possibility of understanding the gears and the speeds and the various knobs and buttons that propel a collection of steel and bolts, and transport you from one place to another? I remember that well – it gave me a sense of independence. It gave me the feeling of having control. But that’s me. I was privileged enough to learn how to drive, not because I had mouths to feed. No one stopped me from driving, no one told me I ...

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What happened when 20 men in Afghanistan wore burqas?

Yesterday, March 8th marked the 104th anniversary of International Women’s Day as people all over the world found unique and creative ways to raise awareness about the rights, or lack thereof, of women, calling for gender equality and celebrating the achievements of women worldwide. These were done through social media, local and international events, educational seminars, political functions, etcetera. When it comes to commemorating global events like International Women’s Day, the sky is the limit.  However, the event that stood out the most for me, and even made headlines last week, was that of a group of 20 Afghan men, fully clad in blue shuttlecock burqas, marching ...

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Really Pakistan? Haya Day on Valentine’s Day?

It’s that time of the year again. Women are anxious and men are distraught; the day when every guy and girl sitting together are stared at suspiciously; the day when people are edgier than usual; the day you are confused about how to celebrate this day because it also happen to be the day students fear being seen in public with someone from the opposite gender because of the ‘consequences’. While the world celebrates Valentine’s Day today, the students at the University of Karachi are celebrating something different. These students have given various names to this day, including Hijab Day, Haya Day and ...

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Pakistan Women’s Day: It’s about time we start respecting Shireen Mazari and Asma Jahangir

February 12, 2015, commemorates National Women’s Day in Pakistan, for our mothers, doctors, engineers, leaders, homemakers and women belonging to every strata, class and religion in society. But while we celebrate our women, it is very unfortunate that many of them have to face immense challenges in their daily routine; from public name-calling to humiliation and character assassination, our women go through all. Whenever they come out and participate effectively in political or public spheres, many elements express their venom against such women and regard them to be of bad character and lacking morals. An example of this is the ...

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“You think you can harass me just because I’m a woman?” – You tell him, girlfriend!

The news today is inundated with reports of women of all ages being raped and harassed. So when I came across a video of a young woman who confronted a fellow male passenger who had groped her on a plane, I saw it as a step forward, a victory (albeit, a small one) in the on-going, wearisome battle that women all over the planet wage in order to be accepted as equals, individuals who deserve to be treated with respect. The video clip shows her berating the man for seeking opportune moments to touch her inappropriately. The man is seen trying to ...

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The Taliban is not the real enemy

December 16, 2014, marked the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) deadliest attack in Pakistan. Militants from the TTP attacked an army-run school in Peshawar, killing 142 people; 132 of whom were children. Survivors of the attack are still being treated in hospitals. As declared by the Taliban, the motivation for the attack has been to avenge the Taliban families who have been targets of the drone attacks in operation Zarb-e-Azb. The attack has been widely condemned across the globe with majority of Pakistanis mourning December 16 as a ‘Black Day’ in the history of Pakistan. Consequently, the prevalent government, army, opposition parties and the wider nation ...

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Gender roles and the ‘macho male’ complex in India

It is the year 2014 and much has changed in the world. Technology has made monumental strides towards advancement – today we can communicate with another person sitting across the globe with the mere touch of a button or the swipe of a finger. Medical and public health initiatives have worked synergistically to eliminate some of the most virulent diseases plaguing the human race, such as the polio virus in India. One can confidently state that “everything is subject to change” with respect to all arenas governing our lives. But despite these notable achievements, it is disconcerting to observe that our attitudes, ...

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