Stories about gender equality

What is the point of International Women’s Day anyway?

In the land of technicolour, is there space for grey areas? Welcome to Pakistan. We are rapidly moving towards a positive change, for example, everyone now knows what Aldo sells – everyone who is anyone, that is. Another, more poignant example is how we are all set to celebrate International Women’s Day in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan for all the right reasons. Or at least that’s what we have been told – be happy on March 8 and go give the next woman you find a pat on the back. She may turn around and slap you but that’s okay. It ...

Read Full Post

International Women’s Day: My induction into the Pakistan Air Force

It was August 7, 2000 when a group of 40 girls entered the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Academy for the first time, in such a large number, as lady cadets or female cadets. And it changed the course of our armed forces forever. Until only a few years ago, females could not think of joining the coveted PAF as anything more than a doctor. The first opportunity for women to work in a ground based job came when the post of commissioned officer was opened for admissions, at one of PAF’s many ground support branches. However, they were still not ready to take female pilots; ...

Read Full Post

A woman’s perspective: Pakistan must not negotiate!

As a woman, you grow up under the shadow of men. You look up to them to make important decisions for you. Ranging from how you have to eat and address your peers to what you should be studying, who you should be marrying, how to protect your body, your offspring, what’s the appropriate time for you to hang up the phone to how fragile your reputation is in a patriarchal society such as ours. Your self- worth becomes a bit of a joke – a paradox and a concept that Pakistani women, quite obviously, are still struggling with. Are we ...

Read Full Post

Tehelka controversy: Can powerful editors get away with sexual harassment?

For more than a decade now, Tehelka magazine has been respected by the media fraternity for its fearless coverage of illegal defence deals, land rights issues, gender equality and communalism. Then, what happened two weeks ago in an elevator of the Grand Hyatt, Goa that not only shattered the reputation of the magazine, but blacklisted it for a long time to come? Tarun Tejpal, the patron of Tehelka, is said to have sexually assaulted a female colleague during the annual THiNK fest that Tehelka organises every November. He sent an email yesterday afternoon to the Managing Editor of the magazine, Shoma Chaudhury saying that he has ‘recused’ ...

Read Full Post

Pakistan needs more men like Mirza Ali

In 1856 when Mount Everest was definitively identified as the world’s highest mountain what began was a series of early Everest expeditions, mostly led by the British, which, in 1933, included efforts to deploy the British Union Flag on top of the mountain by flying a formation of aircraft over the peak (an expedition funding by a British millionaires, Lady Houston) Since 1921 Everest has had over 4,500 climber visitors from over eighty nations. And while the first female ascent of the mountain was in 1975 by Japanese mountain-climber, Junko Tabei and the first Pakistani to scale the Everest was a ...

Read Full Post

Boys just can’t be girls

Sitting alone in a train compartment, I waited for my co-passengers to arrive in Bangalore. Like several people, I enjoy being a silent observer of those around me and particularly on a long journey that I was about to undertake, I figured, it was a fine pastime. I was headed from Bangalore to New Dehli.  A lady, not more than 35-years-old, struggled her way into my compartment carrying a rather heavy child in her left arm and balancing a huge suitcase in her right. Her hair undone, sweat rolling down her forehead, her eyes showed relief that she made it ...

Read Full Post

Girls can throw acid too

Earlier this week, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy returned to Pakistan after winning an Oscar award for making “Saving Face”, a documentary about women who are victims of acid attacks. Yesterday, a news report in the media about another acid attack caught everybody’s attention. This time, however, one thing was different; the girl wasn’t attacked, she was the attacker. Nabeela, an 18-year-old girl, in Faisalabad attacked her boyfriend Asif with acid after he allegedly decided to end a two year commitment. As far as I am aware, this is one of the first cases heard of where a woman has used acid as a weapon. While I admit my first ...

Read Full Post

International Women’s day is not my day

It’s not my day because I am a woman every day of the year. I don’t want 24 hours to remind the world that I will speak what’s on my mind, make my own decisions and not be objectified, simply because I don’t need to be given what’s mine to begin with anyway;  health and safety, education, equal opportunities and control over my body and life choices. My rights are not your charity. Please don’t pat yourself on the back to assuage your guilt, if there is any to begin with, for being nice to me today.  I moved beyond ...

Read Full Post