Every year on this day as Pakistan celebrates its Independence Day, where I lived 25 years of my life, I take a moment to reflect back and see what went right. I may have lost trust in the Pakistani state but have my belief in the people of Pakistan — extremely resilient people, facing the harsh realities of life in that part of the world and managing to pull through that with a smile.
Reflecting back on the last few years, I’m pleasantly surprised at the pace at which women empowerment has come to the forefront of agendas in the country. Women were always part of the workforce in all walks of life but the kind of progress that has been made in a short span of time is unprecedented in that part of the world. As a committed feminist, I take pride in that fact.
To all the women in Pakistan…. this is a celebration of an incredible struggle, an unprecedented story of a people not giving up. A story of a third world country democratically electing a woman head of state four decades ago and since then, multiple times; a story of a nation where women win Oscars, Nobels and climb Mount Everest; produce award-winning writers and fastest women in the region. A story of a nation where an ethnic and religious minority 23-year old woman gets to fly a fighter jet for the Air Force — in sharp contrast to a neighbour where women get lashed for driving a two-door Suzuki. A story of a nation where women lead arts, crafts and showbiz with significant contribution in music, drama and films — winning awards throughout the world. A story of a nation where women win Cricket World Cups, lift international squash trophies and are kickass boxers. Its an incredible story of women rising to get international awards for campaigns against bonded labour, becoming UN Ambassadors for the Disabled and receiving global recognition for human rights campaigns and journalism.
This is a story of a nation fighting one dictator after another without fail and restarting their journey with women leading from the front. This is a story of Benazir and Malala, of Nasim Hamid and Bapsi Sidhwa, of Maryum Hazara and Samina Baig, of Sharmeen Obaid and Maria Torpakai, of Muniba Mazari and Asma Jahangir, of Syed Ghulam Fatima and Sofia Javed… and that 49 % taking this nation forward with their unflinching resolve to progress.
Kudos to the women of Pakistan and their amazing achievements!