Pakistani women
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Rida Hussian |

In the past few decades, one change that has been observed in Pakistan is the increased participation of the women in the workforce of Pakistan. Women from all social strata are taking steps outside their traditional boundaries to create their own identity distinct from the identities that are socially and naturally being assigned to them

Fifty percent of Pakistan’s population wants to be recognized for being more than just a wife, daughter, mother or sister.

It is not wrong to say that space and acceptance have been created in the society for working women, but unfortunately, the lives of working women are not as comfortable and ideal as projected in the television commercials.

When we say the phrase ‘working woman’ a stereotypical image of a young, smart woman on a high managerial position at a white – collar job emerges or the woman that is working in the service sector.

To tackle the problem, it is the women themselves first who have to act against such unjust behavior. In a majority of the cases, the women out of fear of disgrace are reluctant to report the cases of sexual harassment against them.

In order to truly recognize and address the core issues of the working woman we need to broaden our understanding of what constitutes the ‘working woman’. The majority of working women in Pakistan are working in blue–collar jobs.

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Maids that are working as domestic help, females working in factories and industries, taking part in the agricultural activities across the country all constitute examples of many working women that are ignored, not lauded and not recognized for their hard work.

Maids that are working as domestic help, females working in factories and industries, taking part in the agricultural activities across the country all constitute examples of many working women that are ignored, not lauded and not recognized for their hard work.

There lie more obstacles and drudgery as a working woman belonging to lower social strata than exists for the socially and economically affluent working woman.

The middle-class woman’s plight starts from the very first question when they are asked: “why they need or want to work?” This is the first obstacle they have to overcome even before stepping out of their homes. A question no boy is ever asked. Women are required to give a satisfactory and justifiable answer for their reason to work.

The contrary condition prevails for the working woman in the lower socio-economic classes, who work because they have no choice. In their case, no-one asks them why they are working, they take whatever opportunity comes their way, which unfortunately leaves many of them open to abuse.

Sexual harassment is the most common evil that most women face in all occupations at every level in their workplaces. How successful they are in battling against this depends upon the circumstances, which are usually out of their control.

How much support they can gather for their due rights at the workplace is solely dependent upon the management and their owners.

In offices, they are often unjustly criticized against their male colleagues, not appraised enough for their skills and talent and in severe cases face verbal intimidation by the same male colleagues when they outperform them.

Women in blue-collar jobs are often underpaid, not respected enough and lead a more harsh life than their male counterparts.

Additional problems arise if a woman wears a hijab. She is often pressurized into ‘give up her hijab and in most cases denied the jobs she rightly deserves owing to her ‘undesirable and unattractive’ external appearance when it really makes little difference to how well qualified she is for the job.

Women in blue-collar jobs are often underpaid, not respected enough and lead a more harsh life than their male counterparts.

The working day long in the heat of the scorching sun, all their dreams, aspirations and the very sense of they being humans are brutally singed. All because they have to work hard enough to feed their dependents.

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Yet none of this relates to what the large mass of working women need and what they face in their ‘workplaces’. We cannot leave this only to the government but society as a whole has to pick up this issue and enable women to play their ‘rightful’ roles as they want in society with honor and dignity.

What should be done to solve the problem?

To tackle the problem, it is the women themselves first who have to act against such unjust behavior. In a majority of the cases, the women out of fear of disgrace are reluctant to report the cases of sexual harassment against them. They prefer switching their workplace or completely shutting themselves back in their homes.

Whereas this is not the solution to the problem, the first step is to have enough self – confidence to bring such cases in front of the public. Ignorance and negligence in reporting such issues is in another way of encouraging such happenings in the future.

It is fortunate that our society is successfully producing female doctors, engineers, writers, researchers, and pilots. But this fifty percent of the population, unfortunately, suffers from a lack of courage and confidence to stand firmly against activities that are threatening to one sense of self.

Educated women though somehow manages to fight back with such oppressive activities but a large mass of females in lower income groups with little or no awareness of how to fight back are only left with the option to endure such oppression.

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As mentioned above the society must gather to take up this issue. Combined efforts of media, non–governmental organizations and government can bring positive outcomes.

Why do we forget that women have played a very bright role in the formation of this country standing side by side and sharing all struggles with men in every sector to build the structure of this country? 

Mediums such as radio and television can be used effectively to disseminate the messages regarding the rights of a working woman, especially at their workplace.

Also the management at corporate organizations must also take this opportunity to give complete support to their female workers and provide them with necessary training helping the further to safeguard their rights.

When we celebrate women’s day every year, talk about the independence of women, ask for more opportunities in the professional sector, a higher representation of women in the national politics.

Why do we forget that women have played a very bright role in the formation of this country standing side by side and sharing all struggles with men in every sector to build the structure of this country?

Why after 70 years we are questioning and despising the role of working woman?

Therefore we must come up with conclusive action to tackle this problem.

Rida Hussain is a Master’s in Mass Communication from the University of Karachi with a keen interest to write on social and current affairs. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

Rida Hussain is a Master’s in Mass Communication from the University of Karachi with a keen interest to write on social and current affairs.

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