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The power is within you

March 09, 2019

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Illustration by Ahmed Amin
Illustration by Ahmed Amin

Women, the world over, are advancing in all areas of life. Society is increasingly recognising that females have rights, potential and skills that are the same as those of men

Sara dreams of becoming a pilot in the Air Force, but she knows her conservative family would disapprove of this, considering it a profession more suitable for males. Sara firmly believes in the saying that if there is a will, there is a way. So she has resolved that she would do everything in her power to achieve her ambition. She is working hard to get good grades and researching about flying and training options.

As the world around us is increasingly waking up to women’s rights, this gives her renewed hope. Deep in her heart, the belief is becoming strong that she will achieve her dream if she works hard and doesn’t lose sight of her aim.

Sara is not wrong in believing what she does. In a traditionalist and conformist society like ours, there is new hope and awakening among many girls and women. Gone are the days when females were denied their basic rights in society. With advances in communication and technology, the world has become a global village. Women and girls are now aware of their rights and, with this increased awareness, feel they have more power and control over their lives.

Women around the world and in Pakistan too, are advancing in all areas of life. They are even excelling in areas that were considered the exclusive domain of the males. Our society, like others, is increasingly recognising that females have rights, potential and skills that are the same as those of men. Today, women can stand beside men in all aspects of life. No wonder that today girls are becoming pilots, politicians, show biz/media personalities, policewomen, sportsperson, military officers, scientists, lawyers, etc.

The shining examples of Arfa Karim and Malala Yousafzai in recent history have also made many girls of our society take notice. They now know that they can succeed against the odds and can challenge the restrictions and limits set for them.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has also adopted the provisions of Pakistan Vision 2025 that relate to women empowerment.

These notably include the following:

• Promote women’s self worth,

• Right to determine their choices,

• Access to opportunities and resources,

• Right and power to control their lives (both inside and outside their homes),

• Ability to influence social change.

Here is a list of the things the girls today need to do to get further empowerment and achieve what they want in life.

Illustration by Ahmed Amin
Illustration by Ahmed Amin

Challenge the limits/restrictions

People around you would set limits/restrictions on you. And many a times the limits exist only in our minds. They take root because of the fears and inhibitions we have.

Bring your fears out in the open for self-analysis. Once you bring them out, you will find a way to deal with them. See if these limits are reflective of the values that your family shares and supports or is it just being followed for the fear of society or what people will say?

If the latter is the case, you can easily sit down and talk to your parents and ask them the reasons why the limits are being followed and explain to them why you think it is time to challenge these limits.

Maybe things won’t chan­ge with only one discussion, but it will give you a chance to share your views, aspirations and aims with elders, something many people can’t do very easily or confidently.

Follow your dreams

Do not let the circumstances around you get in the way of your dreams. Also do not let any personal inhibitions inside you stop you from getting what you want.

Many times, and especially in today’s world, it is just a matter of reaching out to get what you want in life. Sources of information are numerous and there is easier access to useful information and guidance from a number of reliable sources.

Also people are now more accommodating to women and girls in most fields/careers than before. As such, the opportunities at your disposal are numerous.

Speak up against injustice

Whether it is inside your home or outside it, there is nothing that should stop you from raising your voice against any injustice, abuse, discrimination, etc, that you face. There even exists legislation in our country tailored especially to discourage all forms of abuse of children and women.

Do not hesitate to get help from inside or outside your home whenever you are abused or denied your rights.

Create social groups

Unity is power. Create groups with like-minded people to share information and seek solutions to problems. The groups might be on social media or otherwise. You can even make a united stand to tackle the problems you face as a group.

Maintain your own personality

You would not be sacrificing the female’s dignity if you are assertive in getting what you want. Girls, you can remain feminine and still stand out in a man’s world, and boys, you can remain masculine and macho while supporting the females in the family and doing things that are traditionally considered female’s domain.

Know your rights

Knowledge is power. You need to be aware of all your rights which are (more often than not) the same as the males of the society. This knowledge is important because it would give you the power to make a rightful stand for yourself.

Discrimination on the bases of gender, race and religion is discouraged and not allowed in almost everything now, be it education, employment, services, etc. You just need to know what your rights are and simply stay firm in demanding them.

Respect authority, reject dominance

Social stigmas would always be there against females. It is how you react to them that would determine how far you go. Do not let the males around you intimidate or bully you. If being a female in any male dominated environment jeopardises your interests, then first try and get support from other like-minded people around and work with them to improve the situation.

Things have never been as good as they are today for females around the world. The future is yours if you take a brave and wise approach towards all aspects of your life. Happy Women’s Day!

Published in Dawn, Young World, March 9th, 2019