Today women constitute half the world population. They have been acknowledged as second rate position and weaker sex in both the developing and underdeveloped countries. They have lost all their self respect and their independent entities in respect with their professional aptitude. They are becoming solely dependent on male for their necessities of life like food, clothing and shelter.
In spite of our male dominated society, the women have made great stride in various fields of life and gained substantial achievements as teachers, doctors, engineers, scientists, soldiers and pilots. Their destiny can only be changed through wide spread of education. The injustices meted out by male to female can be wiped out only through education. Economic independence is a major factor, which can contribute in empowering women.
The illiterate women are not aware of their rights and privileges and are often subject to exploitation at the hands of government machinery, as well as by family members. In this context, the governmental and non-governmental organizations including media should come forward and play an active role in creating awareness of female in society. Their role will have an overall have a good impact on our society.
In Pre-Islamic period, Arab world women had no rights. Women had very little control over their marriages and could not inherit property. In the family, their purpose was nothing more but for bearing children although they did not have any rights to them. When a female baby was born it was considered a dishonor to the family and female infanticide was a usual response.
Generally, in ancient times for a father to bury his daughter alive was acceptable and was regarded as noble and respectable on his part. Many practiced and believed that if a husband died, then his wife should be cremated along with him and her ashes buried with him.
A woman in Islam occupies an unparallel position, where she is ranked in a manner, which enables her to be respected in the fashion that she desires. In Islam, women are holding high respect. Islam has given freedom to women in many things and has given them back their self-respect.
For an all- around development of women the Holy Qur’an specifically issues women’s right to property, order of succession to property, maintenance, marriage, divorce, etc.
Allah Ta’aalaa states in the Qur’an:
“And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness.” (2: 228)
This aayah of the Holy Qur’an shows that the status of men and women are equaled in that their rights are mutually compulsive (obligatory).
“Men are in charge of women because Allah hath made the one of them excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women).” (4: 34)
For centuries the women were neglected and were confined to their homes and were purely at the mercy of men. Now becoming aware about their rights and demands, the violence and crime against women is on the increase.
Women comprise more than 50 percent of Pakistan’s total population. Despite this, the situation of Pakistani women compared with men is one of systemic gender subordination, although there have been attempts by the government and well-educated groups to elevate their status in society.
In 2012, the World Economic Forum ranked Chad, Pakistan and Yemen as the worst in their Global Gender Gap Report. Having said that, several Pakistani womenfolk, especially in the rural areas, have suffered due to atrocities, like rape, acid throwing, honor killings, forced marriages, forced prostitution, etc, which were committed on them. So, a major remedy to the problem is women empowerment.
During 1960s and 1970s the movement by the women to seek equality with men gained ground all over the world. With this movement called feminism, the educated women in particular and poor rural women in general realized the need to break the old bonds to breathe in the open space.
Still the experience shows that man’s dominance is devastatingly strong and deep rooted to allow for any change in the short run.
In India, a crime is committed against a woman every seven minutes. Every 26 minutes a molestation take place and every 54 minute somewhere a woman is raped. The burning of brides for dowry continues intense in the different parts of the country.
In Pakistan, the condition of rural women is still more deplorable and pathetic. The various women’s movements are led and organized by the fashioned white collared middle class women and social workers from upper and upper middle class non-working women who are not aware about the ground realities existing in the rural structure of Pakistan society and are not concerned to the rural women’s hapless conditions.
In spite of the constitutional and legal guarantees in Pakistan aiming to eradicate the inequality and discrimination in any form, the suffering of women still remained far from improved. Even today, the evils like child marriage, sexual assaults, wife beating, female infanticide and gender discrimination are widely prevalent in the society.
Nevertheless, still the realization is taking roots in the various structures of our society and the women themselves try to raise their voice against the discrimination and violence by the male dominated society. The lives of Pakistani women have changed during the past 42 years and they are more empowered and liberated than they were ever before.
Quaid-e-Azam said in a speech in 1944, “No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you; we are victims of evil customs. It is a crime against humanity that our women remain shut up within the four walls of the houses as prisoners.” The lives of Pakistani women have changed during the past 40 years and they are more empowered and emancipated then they were ever before.
In the urban areas many advocate women empowerment, others oppose the very idea. A woman who remains at home and can, therefore, look after her children in a much better and productive way. On the other hand, a working woman is always busy in her work schedule leading to neglected children. A change of priorities from children to work makes her negligent towards her children.
The advocates of working women say with constant rising prices and inflation, earning people would surely help run the financial matters of the family. A woman when remains at home are safe from the harsh attitude of other people of the society. She is safe at all times and does not face any kind of depression as a result of such unhealthy behavior towards her.
Let’s take a look at various laws or bill passed regarding women emancipation in Pakistan. “The Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act (2010).” This creates a safe working environment for women, which is free of harassment, abuse and intimidation with a view to fulfilling their right to work with dignity.
This Act complies with the government’s commitment to high international labor standards and empowerment of women. It also adheres to the Human Rights Declaration, the United Nations Convention for Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women and ILO’s Convention 100 and 111 on workers’ rights. It adheres to the principles of Islam and all other religions which assure women’s dignity. This Act requires all public and private organizations to adopt an internal code of conduct and a complain/appeals mechanism aimed at establishing a safe working environment for all working women.
The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill was passed unanimously by the National Assembly on August 4, 2009, but the bill lapsed after the Senate failed to pass it within the three months period required under the Constitution. The measure makes sexual harassment or intimidation punishable by three years in prison, a 500,000 rupee fine, or both. The bill includes protection in public places such as markets, public transport, streets or parks, and more private places, such as workplaces, private gatherings, and homes.
According to the World Bank’s World Development Report, the participation of women in Pakistan’s labor force is at 28 percent, a clear signal that the battle has just begun. “These women cross the first barrier under compulsion,” said Dr Rakhshanda Parveen, executive director of SACHET, a welfare and development organization which emerged more than a decade ago with a gender-sensitive outlook.