2015 essay contest honorable mention
EDUCATION, THE ULTIMATE WEAPON
by Hayiam Muhammad
11th grader, Beaconhouse School, Pakistan
In my country, Pakistan, women and girls face several challenges. It is a social taboo that a woman be working to provide for her family or perhaps just to be independent, they are mostly confined in houses as men feel reluctant and insecure about their wives and daughters mingling in society due to the presence of moral dangers. Their mere presence outside their homes perhaps to enjoy the civic amenities that men do for instance sports, shopping, driving etc. tends to bring significant attention towards them. It is due to these stigmas that discourages women to be themselves and flourish in a community.
However what I find to be the biggest challenge that women and girls face in my country is exercising their right to education. Due to this hurdle their potential is destroyed and so is any hope for pursuing their dreams and ambitions. Moreover as most female populace is illiterate they are unable to contribute to the society as much as men can. Girls are often neglected higher education or education of any kind at all as the male heads of the families do not see any advantage to invest in their daughter’s education because they view it as unimportant since according to them her only fate is to get married when she reaches a mature age and bear their grand-‐children. It is often the case that men feel their masculinity to be vulnerable if women are given leeway in society to prosper, men fear that women would surpass them when met with the right opportunities and men view this vulnerability as an insult and weakness hence contradicting the basic alpha male instinct. In certain cases it is not the families that deprive girls from education rather the fact that most public girl schools have a weak infrastructure and framework, this makes the people reluctant as the government schools are not conducive to a learning environment. Religious extremism also poses as an obstacle, it is mainly propagated by terrorist organizations. The basic culture of the people is also a major factor discouraging education for girls. What is more appalling is that over the course of time women and girls are beginning to accept their inferior position in society. However most of such conservative mentality and administrative mismanagement pertains to rural areas since they are cut off from the contemporary education system as well as modern life style.
Eradicating the extremist entities in the country can be a daunting task and falls more on the government and the military and telling people to contradict their cultural and traditional views can prove to be a sensitive subject. However it is the idea that needs to be altered and such manipulation can be achieved through means of campaigning and spreading awareness. It is absolutely crucial that women and girls be made aware of their rights in society also their potential to excel. Women should be encouraged to take opportunities and pursue their aspirations. By improving their self-‐esteem in this manner they can emerge as a stronger character in society. At the same time men should be educated and they should be clarified about their responsibilities and roles and how they should aid their female counterparts to flourish and achieve their ambitions. It is also vital to discuss the advantages of education. Since religion and culture play a pivotal role in the daily life of the people, they tend to intertwine to form an intricate web that acts as a hurdle for societal success whereas at the same time people cannot be forced to abandon their beliefs hence where ever appropriate and possible a more cultural approach should be adopted as that would better impact their understanding, for instance tradition and culture of my country i.e. Pakistan, promotes the concept of dowry whereas at the same time our religion Islam deplores dowry but mostly this is overlooked by people. Presenting people with such conflicts in their belief system allows them to think and reconsider their perceptions. Such awareness can be spread by conducting seminars, through media and various other modes, it doesn’t necessarily have to be large scale as individual efforts are equally benefiting. Governments can pass laws to secure the position of women, improve their education system, various organizations and unions may be formed to represent the views of women and girls in a community.
To ensure a society acceptable by all and conducive to success it is imperative that mutual respect be developed for others irrespective of their distinguishing features.