There is an old saying that an intelligent family has an intelligent mother. Certainly, studies suggest that girls with literate mothers are more likely to go to school than girls without. It is believed that education can make all the difference to a girl’s life, not just economically, but for her human development as well.
But what happens when a girl is born in a country like Pakistan?
One of the hardest places in the world to be a woman. One of the most startling statistics found is that nine out of 10 women are illiterate. Not only do many women face death threats on their way to school, such as acid being thrown in their faces, but they are also forbidden to learn with boys, which makes finding an accessible school even harder.
In a male-dominated society like Pakistan where the cultural oppression of women is rife, One need more than just courageous to stand up for girls and women’s right ,and more importantly the basic right to education. I imagine it taking some kind of conviction and being rooted in what you believe in
I often find myself stuck with unanswered questions.
Why Girls? Why women?
It certainly is not just a problem uniquely Pakistani, women in countries like Afghanistan, Nepal, Cambodia, Chad and some parts of India to name just a few, to these women education remains a dream. I wish I could sit in this chair and say I grew up in a privileged society, where education was a norm but I didn’t. We still have a long way to go even in our beautiful rainbow nation.
Listening to Ziauddin Yousafzai Tedtalk over and over again, I could not help but, think that the world could do so much better with more men like Malala’s father. Every time I have dialog with male friends about such issues, all I get is ‘It’s not about to change, it has been like this since like forever.
Back to Malala’s father Tedtalk, I was deeply moved by this—-
“And there is one more norm of the patriarchal societies that is called obedience. A good girl is supposed to be very quiet, very humble and very submissive. It is the criteria. The role model good girl should be very quiet. She is supposed to be silent and she is supposed to accept the decisions of her father and mother and the decisions of elders, even if she does not like them. If she is married to a man she doesn’t like or if she is married to an old man, she has to accept, because she does not want to be dubbed as disobedient. If she is married very early, she has to accept. Otherwise, she will be called disobedient. And what happens at the end? In the words of a poetess, she is wedded, bedded, and then she gives birth to more sons and daughters. And it is the irony of the situation that this mother, she teaches the same lesson of obedience to her daughter and the same lesson of honor to her sons. And this vicious cycle goes on, goes on.
Ladies and gentlemen, this plight of millions of women could be changed if we think differently, if women and men think differently, if men and women in the tribal and patriarchal societies in the developing countries, if they can break a few norms of family and society, if they can abolish the discriminatory laws of the systems in their states, which go against the basic human rights of the women.”
Malala’s dad is a progressive man who understand the value of educating girls. For the status of girls and women to improve we need more men with a mindset like Ziauddins.It’s often men who execute the kind of change that we are forever advocating for, Such mindset can’t be unique it must be collective.
Maybe I am not asking the right questions, maybe the questions that we should be asking as women should start with a ‘How’
Maybe the How’s will open doors and lead to sustainable ways of finding solutions towards better communities where coexist will eventually be a norm.