2015 essay contest honorable mention
by Abdullah Iftikhar
11th grader, Beaconhouse School, Pakistan
For a nation to prosper, its women’s rights need to be protected and the obstacles they face need to be removed, perhaps that is why Pakistan is not what it should be today. The reason women in Pakistan have been oppressed is the hypocritical attitude towards their progress by men, which is also the biggest challenge they face today.
The way this slanted standpoint bedevils women empowerment and their liberties is menacing to the basic elements of morality. Because of this problem, it would be implied that women are progressing, their rights are being granted and women empowerment is depicted as a process that takes place gradually. But this ‘process’ resulting from the stated problem has pushed our women back when they should’ve walked by us or have led us.
To make things easier, we will suppose this problem exists because of the ‘hypocrite’. This hypocrite boasts of the achievements of women in Pakistan and is superficially more feminist than women who stand for their rights, but fails to apply this feminism and these ideals in practicality. He convinces fellows that the progress of women is the only way forward for the country in a coffee shop and comes back home to disapprove of his wife’s request to learn a new language or his daughter’s demand of studying what she wants (or studying at all).This hypocrite in Pakistani society is who has imperiled the actual potential and advancement of women and is now the biggest challenge they face, although only a few recognize this.
The reason this hypocrite exists is because of the way we’re brought up. By the time our children enter their teenage; they are cognizant of the patriarchal structure of our society and conform to it. This is because the patriarchal structure in Pakistan functions on the power of taboo and therefore, women do not defy this norm because they know they will be mocked and derided. In augmentation, similarly, men refuse to be associated to women who are shunned. This way both the parents end up raising a hypocrite who observes this structure, and ultimately the hypocrite raises another conformist to the structure, reinforcing the infinitely vicious cycle.
This raises the peculiar question of why this hypocrite never chooses a side. To get an answer we have to realize that for this hypocrite, his conformist values are practically effectuating but the global trends and progressive values are concurrently appealing. This way, the idea of following both these values simultaneously becomes appealing and the hypocrite adheres to them. This adherence essentially results in the hypocrite’s double standards because although progressive ideas are appealing, social reverence stems from social acceptance and defying norms does not earn you social reverence, thus making his progressiveness empty rhetoric.
Two other reasons for the existence of the hypocrite are religious misinterpretation and the practice of ludicrous traditions. The hypocrite follows misguided self-‐proclaimed scholars and binds his meaningless sexist teachings (divorced from Islam) upon everyone, getting himself a pseudo religious cover too. The ludicrous traditions, specifically those of the tribal and feudal areas, restrict women to a reserved source of making children. Ironically when some women rebel and are ultimately renowned, these tribal andfeudal lords express their ‘pride’ in them. This proves that this hypocrite has many forms and is present across the country.
To get to a solution, we must recognize that gender inequality is a problem and openly address it. The formation of a Women’s Rights Commission will not only imply that the problem is recognized but viable schemes like scholarships for women and parental leave models, otherwise alien ideas, will be implemented.
To reform this hypocrite, we must introduce a custom against hypocrisy and reform this patriarchal structure and the surest way to do so is to introduce educational reform. Awareness needs to be kindled in adolescent children about the patriarchal social structure and they should be encouraged to question and defy it. This new component needs to be incorporated into the syllabi for grades 8-‐12 by the Education Ministries.
A more short-‐term solution would be government-‐sponsored consultation centers at a residential level to discuss their problems and provide them with psychiatric help and moral support if needed. These centers will also provide women guidelines to tackle the problems they face as well as legal and financial support. The inclusion of experts in them would also help in organizing seminars for men in which the primary objective will be the distinction between cultural, religious and humanitarian demands. This will empower women at a level which will initiate a tide against their challenge; the hypocrite.