Stories about women empowerment

Pakistan celebrates Anti-Malala Day

An exclusive interview with the brains behind the anti-Malala day. Two days ago, the All Pakistan Private Schools Federation headed by Mirza Kashif Ali, celebrated ‘I Am Not Malala day’. It’s said that the association, which represents a network of some 150,000,000 private schools in Pakistan, is planning a ‘Pro-Polio day’ for its next stunt, followed by a ‘Flat Earth day’ in solidarity with the members of the Westboro Baptist Church in the United States. After chairing a panel consisting of six middle-aged men at the Islamabad Press Club, where not a single woman was present in the audience, Ali told The New York Times, “We are all ...

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Za Pakhtoon Yum: A mind-altering foray into Pukhtun life and culture

So far, our dramas have revolved around the vicious circle of poverty, a miserable daughter-in-law suffering at the hands of her evil in-laws, societal customs, dowry issues, giving birth to a male child or the perfect ‘rishta’ (proposal). Indeed these are issues which need to be addressed in dramas or movies, but there are other issues that require our attention as well. With the passage of time, we, Pakistanis, have come across many complex issues segregating our society into small groups, each intolerable for the other. We have issues ranging from the Shia-Sunni to the Punjabi-Pukhtun, anti-women empowerment to pro-women empowerment, even from the pro-Malala ...

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Dear Iran, self-defense is not murder

The world celebrates and praises Malala Yousafzai – a Pakistani girl whose claim to fame was a bullet to her head, her fault being her desire to seek education – and while the world talks of empowering women, the world is perhaps ignorant of the plight of another young woman fighting for her life in neighbouring country, Iran. This brave, young woman happens to be 26-year old Reyhaneh Jabbari who can be put to death any time now, as her 10-day delay in execution ended last Wednesday. Her crime was stabbing a man to death, a man who tried to rape her. It was in ...

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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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Is morality determined by the length of a woman’s blouse?

Over time I have noticed a common trend on Pakistani Facebook pages, especially those of designers and celebrities: crude, caustic and downright hateful slandering of celebrities. I recently stumbled upon a picture of Humaima Malick looking gorgeous in an elegant Élan ensemble and all I could think of was the talent and beauty that exists in our country. But then I read the bitterest of verbal abuses on the picture, which included: “She is lookin’ dumb and her makeup is damn worst” “Kitni ugly hai pata nai kyun uthaya hua hai isko” “This is behayaee and immoral behaviour” Photo: Élan Facebook Page Apparently, showing inches ...

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Throwing ‘like a girl’ is not an insult!

If you haven’t seen the new advertisement from the Procter and Gamble-owned Always, then you need to see it. This advert, which explores what it means to do something ‘like a girl’, topped the Campaign Viral Chart, bumping Activia’s Shakira video off the first place. It has been shared 536,519 times in the last few days, and it is definitely something everyone should watch. Directed by the award winning filmmaker, Lauren Greenfield, who also directed the famous documentary, The Queen of Versailles, this commercial begins with a bunch of grownups entering the studio and being asked to demonstrate how to run, fight and ...

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If Amal Alamuddin can bag George Clooney, so can we!

Dear Mr Clooney,  To most of us, Amal Alamuddin was just another name – she could be a friend, a neighbour or another acquaintance. But what we really didn’t know was that this name would one day be linked to you. We would have never guessed that you of all people, the fantastic silver fox of Hollywood, would tie the knot and that too overnight! She is engaged to you, the ‘world’s sexiest man’ and one of the most sought-after bachelors. I hope your ego has taken a huge boost while you read this. She has set the standard so high that if we had to ...

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The problem with our drama industry and its depiction of Pakistani women

The troubled image of modern Pakistani women conjured up by Pakistani dramas is extremely distorted and single dimensional. Stories, it is said, are a subtle yet are the most influential way of documenting the social evolution of a society. The story of a woman sells but the modern media has gone one step ahead by proving that the story of a woman being abused, tortured, beaten and humiliated sells faster. The massive projection of domestic and women related violence might appear as an attempt to serve the cause but a closer look will reveal an entirely different and gross story. The disturbing image of woman ...

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A ‘Pink’ bus for women, really?!

Recently in Lahore we were graced with the news of the arrival of our very own ‘Pink Bus’. The purpose of this bus is to rid, albeit momentarily, the female population from the roving eyes, slippery hands and insensitive tongues of the male population; to give women ‘harassment-free-travel’. WHAT? Although the effort is admirable and shows that the government’s thinking is on the right track, the solution, a Pink bus, is a complete sham. The mere fact that the authorities thought it appropriate to introduce something like this should actually offend women and yet we sit there smile, look pretty and let the big, tough, muscular ...

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I am a woman and I can carry my own luggage, thank you

An airport can be a good starting point to begin learning about the culture of any country. Lahore’s Allama Iqbal Airport is much the same. I was motivated to write about this seemingly trivial topic because of the sheer frustration that I felt on arriving at this airport. The experience left me wildly exasperated, and what I am about to give you is a microscopic account on the matter to make you understand my ordeal. After a 12-hour flight from Canada, as I was making my way towards the baggage collection point, I saw a string of porters looking out for potential ...

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