Beyond Violence 

I am Female and I am Strong!

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Pakistani girls participating in computer class

Pakistan is a large country with a population of 185 million, with close to 50% of the population being female. The share of females in the national gross domestic product however does not correspond to their numbers. The major reason behind this is that society not only inhibits women’s personal growth and development, but also fosters an institutional thinking that treats women as physically and psychologically weak, incapable of doing what the men do. If a person is the only female child in the household, one can imagine her plight in that masculine envirnmnet. The story below describes the struggle of a sister caught up among for brothers.

“My name is Rihana.

I belong to a middle class family and live with my parents and four brothers in the district of Haripur, KPK province of Pakistan. From the very beginning, I felt that my parents maintained a very different attitude towards me compared to my brothers. I was treated as a mere girl, a weakling and a dependant!

My father did not pay any attention to my studies. As they say “girls do not need to study at all.” At an early age, I tried to get some religious education and after a few months, I was able to convince my father and secured admission in a school. After my matriculation (secondary school), I decided to continue my studies but my father refused to pay the cost of further education. I was very disappointed at this point as my brothers were enjoying expensive and good quality education. Throughout my study period, I was discriminated against while my brothers had the best! All that, for being a mere girl!

After my matriculation, I was asked to discontinue my studies. I decided to convince my father and after some struggle my father also agreed but he did not agree to let me attend special coaching classes. Since I had full faith in myself, I started my F. Sc (12 years of education) studies as a private candidate. I have passed my F. Sc. examinations now. Meanwhile, I did some short courses just to keep myself busy in studies.

I am very good in studies and if my father provided me with the best place like my brothers, I could have proved my abilities. But it is our dilemma that we take girls very lightly and pay no attention at all to their abilities and intelligence.

After attending group meetings of the NGO in our district, I have decided to continue my education. I was very disappointed at one point but after the motivational trainings, I decided to fight against all injustice related to women and also to continue my studies. The whole process has taught me that individual awareness is the first step to take towards the right direction. The NGO’s project activities brought my individual awareness level to a level of social consciousness and of collective responsibility. My father’s agreement to let me study further is a proof that all efforts towards community development, towards raising individual awareness and creating alliances and networks in the communities can succeed in neutralizing a mindset of traditional thinking that suppresses women’s right of being treated equal”.

Written by Z. Hussein and published on 04-August-2014

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