Emancipate Our Women
“What the [Muslim] League has done is to set you free from the reactionary elements of Muslims and to create the opinion that those who play their selfish game are traitors. It has certainly freed you from that undesirable elements of Maulvis and Maulanas. I am not speaking of Maulvis as a whole class. There are some of them who are as patriotic and sincere as any other; but there is a section of them which is undesirable. Having freed ourselves from the clutches of the British Government, the Congress, the reactionaries and so-called Maulvis, may I appeal to the youth to emancipate our women. This is essential.”
- Mr. Jinnah / Quaid-e-Azam
- Speech: Aligarh 1937
Vigorous and direct action to modify Pakistan’s social structure requires constant revitalization of it’s social energy.
We cannot assume that social progress and evolution is automatic. Nor can we suppose that abuses and bad customs and wasteful ways of doing things will remove themselves.
Instead, we must fully realize that there are bodies of individuals attached by every selfish interest they have to the maintenance of these abusive customs.
Further, Pakistan is acutely conscious that social progress depends upon tendencies and forces within its citizens.
We are also aware that bold imaginative actions executed towards social advancement will inevitably result in a reaction from the obscurantist forces.
In the tactful dance with the obscurantist forces -- the citizens of Pakistan will never deliberately suppress or mutilate a new idea in order to make it congruous with the traditional prejudice OR rationally surrender to the fact that majority of our contemporaries are not yet prepared to embrace a new idea. This is because we cannot compromise and reject the highest truth.
New progressive ideas may be said to be too good to be practicable, where, without adequate inducement in the shape of personal interest, it requires for its accomplishment that some individual or class of individuals shall have made a sacrifice of his or their personal interest to the interest of the whole.
The citizens of Pakistan are ready to make such a sacrifice towards emancipating their women.
Towards this progressive effort, we can not leave the field open for religious zealots and clergymen to define the social role of our women. This is because if we do leave the field open then we are deliberately strengthening the hands of the persons least fitted by judgment, experience, and temper, for using such power rightly. And we are strengthening them not merely in dealing with religious matters, but, what is of more importance, in dealing with an endless variety of the gravest social and political matters.
For this reason the citizens of Pakistan will work with an undaunted spirit towards defeating the following key falsehoods present in our society:
Women’s role is confined to the house and domestic responsibilities
This criminal notion confines our women to their homes, enforces them to be economically dependent on the men and also, limits their political participation.
The truth is that our history, culture and ethos demand that women must not only participate but also hold leadership positions in our national economy and politics.
To practically defeat this falsehood, Pakistan will:
Launch national-level mass campaigns to popularize the idea that women’s economic, social and political participation is absolutely essential to our nation’s progress. We must remember that Mr. Jinnah clearly stated: “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 are shut up within the four walls of the houses as prisoners. There is no sanction anywhere for the deplorable condition in which our women have to live.”
Create a sense of greater political consciousness among all Pakistani women: those who wear the purdah as well as those who don’t. There are many evils from which women suffer which are quietly accepted as inevitable because those who have political power are not those who have to endure the evils. A higher political consciousness in our women is essential for the eradication of these evils.
Ensure providing internet to rural areas so that women who face real dangers and actual possibilities of fatal violence can still participate politically via technology from within their homes.
Design it’s cities for its women. This is because if we examine the streets of any major cosmopolitan metropolis and compare it to our cities we’ll find the sheer absence of women on our streets contrastingly evident. The citizens of Pakistan plan to fully operationalize freedom of movement in every sense of the word and also create safe public spaces in our great cities.
Daughters are to be parted with or married off while sons are stronger support systems for the family
This falsehood is responsible for confining the aspirations of our women to marriage, limiting their higher education and discouraging a commerce-driven life after marriage. As a result - awesome literary, scientific and entrepreneurial pathways are not fully imagined or pursued.
The truth is that our women are the prime-architects of the nation’s character and therefore, acquiring a world-class holistic education and pursuing commerce is the national duty of our women. Because if political consciousness is awakened amongst our women and if they are generating wealth and are economically active, remember our children will not have much to worry about.
Lastly, we must remember Mr. Jinnah’s words that “There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is great competition and rivalry between the two. There is a third power stronger than both, that of the women.”
The time has arrived that Pakistan fully nurtures its third power.