Stories about gender equality

Don’t blame the men at home, when national leaders put women in boxes

Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared that men and women are not equal, because this is against human nature, the two sexes being biologically different. He bashed at feminists who, according to him, do not understand the concept of motherhood and insisted on the primary and sole role of women being the caregivers. He has declared that every woman should have three children and proposed to limit abortions, morning-after pills and caesarean sections. Though it is accepted that a woman’s predominant role in life is that of a mother, she produces and raises a generation, she is the first institution for ...

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Let your children be Emma Watson, let them be Malala

I recently watched the impassioned speech that Emma Watson made for launching the UN’s ‘HeForShe’ campaign. It was a sincere appeal for a better understanding of the ‘feminist’ movement and its singular goal to establish equal rights and freedoms for both men and women. Now, in total honesty, I have grown up with a very different interpretation of what ‘feminism’ is! In fact, while I have always been taught by my family and have believed in equal rights for boys and girls, I have not really associated this with the ‘feminist movement.’ Maybe it is the word itself…why was it ever called a ‘feminist’ ...

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Will #HeForShe work for me, a man?

The recent HeForShe campaign by Emma Watson, the UN Women goodwill ambassador, has gained significant repertoire, with many men posting pictures on Twitter and Facebook with placards, articulating their support for the campaign. The campaign speaks against gender violence and inequality. It is particularly a feminist movement and although it realises the bias against men, it does little beyond recognition. Emma herself stated that: “The more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realised that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating.” There is indeed a need for gender equality, and abuse against either should be equally condemned. Women are mostly ...

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I am a girl and I love going to the mandi

It is considered a universal fact that a cattle market (mandi) is no place for a woman. “It’s a guy thing”, they say. “What would you do in a mandi?” They ask. “Are you sure you want to spoil that dress of yours while going there?” They ridicule. However, it wasn’t until I was physically present in a cattle market that I understood why the mandi was no place for a woman. And no, it had nothing to do with the animals. It had more to do with the people who were there to buy and sell. For me, they were the real ...

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The Goodwill Ambassadors – Shining brighter than ever

For a moment, I felt star-struck, as Alicia Keys entered the room bustling with journalists from world over. We, a varied group of journalists, had been invited by the United Nations Foundation (UNF) to report on and learn from the experience of being in the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York for the UN General Assembly and the Climate Summit 2014. All of us are fans of the many celebrities that we saw all around us in those few days. But once done with the initial gushing and surreal feeling of being in the presence of “stars”, we not ...

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#HeForShe will not make you any less of a man

In an era where celebrities predominantly exercise an almost magnetic influence over their fan base to promote products and virtually dictate the way the populous dresses or behaves, it becomes exceedingly rare to see an individual stand up and talk about a pertinent issue. Emma Watson, an actress known mostly for her performance in the Harry Potter series, showed how celebrity power can be used in a positive way. Speaking before a UN conference, Watson kick started her ‘HeForShe’ campaign, a movement which aims to achieve gender equality by including men in the fight against female oppression. Although as a race, we have ...

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Can’t a woman ask for her property share?

A few days ago, I was at a get together with friends and the usual small talk somehow turned to the ‘controversial’ topic of women and their property rights. One of them dramatically sighed and told her sympathisers how her ‘atrocious’ sister-in-law had the audacity to ask for her share of the family’s property. That opened up a Pandora’s Box as she was joined in by the other women who started sharing anecdotes of girls who had the audacity to ask for their share of their family’s property. I did not, and could not, understand what was so reprehensible about a ...

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Feminism will never work in Pakistan

Rebecca West, a famous author, once said, “I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.” These are powerful words, indeed. Everyone has a different perception of what feminism entails but, universally, it espouses equality and freedom from discrimination, degradation and sexual violence. However, feminism is a concept that sits at odds with a fiercely patriarchal, deeply religious and culture-obsessed society like Pakistan. This is not to say that feminism doesn’t exist in Pakistan; it’s just not given much emphasis or is ...

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Will Sindh’s first female SHO Ghazala be able to survive in a man’s world?

It was encouraging to read the news of appointment of Officer Syeda Ghazala as Sindh’s first female Station House Officer (SHO) of Clifton Police Station, Karachi. This is definitely a step in the right direction, both in terms of policing and in domains of social justice, equality and women’s rights. The decision to appoint a female commander is nothing short of an informal declaration of the beginning of women’s emancipation in Pakistan at the grass roots level (where it is needed the most). To set the stage, let me relate my experience from early this year with Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) One Stop ...

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Women in sports: What Lala might not know

A friend of mine shared a clip on Facebook of a journalist asking Shahid Afridi his views on the development of a girls’ cricket camp in Peshawar (something the journalist said he felt proud of) and Afridi replied that Pathan girls are best at cooking food and should stick to that. This statement did not come as a shock to me. Other than being aware of Afridi’s record of having passed ludicrous remarks about us, Indian Hindus, not being large-hearted enough, which was slammed by many rational Pakistanis, it reminded me of a scene from the Bollywood movie Chak de India starring Shahrukh Khan. It showed ...

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