Published in the Huffington Post July 8, 2013.
What dreary lives are we leading where our mothers, daughters and sisters are being shot in the head? They point their guns and the target is shunned. What remains is the voice behind, but if we falter in raising that, we’ll lose the battle completely.
It’s no secret that without women, there would be no national development. Why? Mothers raise, educate and set priorities for the children. Mothers ensure health and wealth for their children. Mothers manage the households so her sons and daughters can go to school and become something, one day. Mothers sacrifice their own visions, career aspirations and professional dreams so that her children’s mouths are fed. How do women do this? They are biologically inclined to tend to the needs of human beings; their emotional sensibility has ingrained in them a sense of sheer humanity males do not possess. Everywhere we go, we see women catering to the needs of homes, communities and jobs. If the woman is isolated and kept in the dark, so are the children. If a woman is robbed of her right to be informed, her children are highly likely to remain illiterate. Women are the reason our societies prosper and grow into dynamic nations.
Pakistani women are in no way behind: Benazir Bhutto, Fatima Bhutto, Um-e-Hassan, Ayesha Jalal, Madiha Lodhi, Mukhtar Mai, Malala Yousafzai, to name a few of the prominent names we have seen in global news. These women have been the movers and shakers in both political and social spheres of Pakistan, striving to shake the unequal ground we stand upon. However, these are only the most prominent names, the list is never-ending when it comes to young and adult female minds that compromise their livelihood to strive for equal rights for women. Those who want to educate, those who want to illuminate lives, those who fight crimes, those who shelter rape and acid-burn victims, those who remain quiet when their husbands beat them to pulp just so her children always have a roof over their heads – The mothers, daughters and sisters of Pakistan, despite the extremely conservative and at times, devastatingly oppressive regimes in some of the Tribal Areas, remain alive in their pursuit of equality and keep our heads high.
In a gruesome event, a young activist and education-lover, Malala Yousafzai was wounded by the Taliban. They said she spoke for the West and against the Taliban; she wanted to go to school and educate herself and that was no place for her. Her place was at home, beneath the shadows of male figures surrounding her. Her only right was to pay heed to what the Taliban required. This young, courageous and mighty young woman resides in Swat, one of the tribal regions of Pakistan and also one of the most beautiful mountainous regions, might I add. Amid the quietening gloom of religious fundamentalists, she wrote, she spoke and she took a pen and began to share her story. She spoke of the hopeless environment enveloping her; she spoke against illiteracy and stood up for female education. She almost died because of this. Today, she lays in a hospital bed, struggling for her life. How often do we find such vibrant young women who reside in some of the most oppressive surroundings? Some say in Pakistan, women only come third; that is after men and even some animals that aid men in carrying out their work. But guess who always shines like the brightest diamond? Women such as Malala; alive, breathing and believers.
The purpose behind this post is not to repeat what many already say: women are the dynamic of prosperity, but to address a most fundamental matter at hand: Today we remember Malala, but tomorrow when the load-shedding takes over, and the weather changes to blistering cold, when a friend of ours visits us from abroad, when we lock our eyes with our favorite TV shows, tomorrow – Who will remember Malala’s voice?