On 23 March 1940, Mutharma Fatima Jinnah organized a huge gathering of women at the women Islamia College. She and Begum Hafeez Uddin made historical addresses asking the Muslim women of the sub-continent to gather under the flag of Muslim League and demand a separate identity.
The Quaid’s views on women rights are also very liberal and progressive. As early as 1944 he stated that: “No nation can rise to 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 house as prisoners. There is no sanction anywhere for the deplorable condition in which our women have to live. You should take your women along with you as comrades in every sphere of life.
“There are two powers in the world, one is the sword and other is the pen. There is a great competition and rivalry between the two. There is a third power stronger than both, that of the women.” – (Jinnah)
The constitution of Pakistan recognizes the principle of equality of all citizens and the right to equal protection of the law. It specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, and makes provision for measures of affirmative action by the state. In 1996, Pakistan became a signatory to the CEDAW (Committee on elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. In 2000 NCSW (National commission on the state of women) was established with the high sounding objective of advising the government on eradicating laws that are discriminating to women. The committee worked to produce a detailed report that requested amongst after thing the annulment of 1979, Hadood ordinance. In 2006 Pakistan parliament passed the women protection bill, softening the Hadood ordinance, not annulated it. In spite of all this Pakistan have fallen three places on the global gender gap index from 131 in 2011 to 134 in 2012.
Its 2013, Pakistan celebrated women’s day on 8th March and Ms. Perveen Rehman a symbol of hope for the poor was killed on 13th March. Parveen Rehman was a leading social worker of Pakistan. This 56 years old single women was killed outside Orangi, where she headed the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP), one of Pakistan most successful nonprofit organization which works for the poor. Orangi is considered Asia’s largest slum and houses a million people in Karachi? Her sin was that she has the records of how the land mafia and water/hydrant mafia of Karachi works. She said on record that around 1500 Goths (Villages) had been merged into the city since 15 years. Land grabbers subdivided them into plots and earned billion by their sales. Before her thousands women were killed including personalities like Benzair Bhutto when she decided to come back to lead Pakistan. She was attacked the day she arrived and eliminated some time later. May be because she was a liberal educated Pakistani woman who could change the destiny of this country. An attempt was made on the life of 14 years old National Peace Award winner Ms. Malala Yousafzai. Her survival ordeal telling many more to stay home not pursue education not challenge this patriarchal society. In the Pakistan that we live in, this is tolerated every day. In fact, women are blamed for how they are treated.
For Benazir Bhutto the most responsible said: “We told her so”. She should not have come she should not have held a successful political rally that was indicative of her forth coming success. She had to go she had to be eliminated she threatened the powerful of Pakistan. Parveen Rehman she was threatened and should have known better than to challenge the norms and for Malala once they could not cut down on the sympathy vote because of her age and innocence. Gave the story the sordid spin of it being a drama and the ploy of the west. Malala should have united all of Pakistan against these forces instead as usual it divided the nation between liberals and conservative pro-west and anti west. All of it results in the retrogressive forces becoming more powerful.
The Thomson Reuters Foundation list Pakistan as a third most dangerous place for women in the world only behind Afghanistan and Congo. India and Somalia are ranked 4th and 5th. In 2012, 7000 cases of violence against women were reported by Aurat Foundation. These include cases of AAS- AAF custom in which women accused of “bringing shame” to the family take an oath of innocence on the Holy Quran and then walk on burning coals spread over six meters, abduction and torture after abduction, acid attacks, burning by throwing Kerosene oil and petrol, Karo-kari, assault after divorce, assault by in laws, honor killing, murder and assault for contracting a marriage with their free will, murder, victims of Panchayat decisions when women were either sold and killed, rape, assault by police, suicide as a reaction to emotional abuse, torture leading to mental or physical disability, Vani, Vatta-Satta and last but not least cases of general gender discrimination and gender disinheritance. 90% women in Pakistan face domestic violence.
Presently as we are all set to celebrate 23rd March, as Pakistan day. The women who came together under the Muslim League flag for separate homeland and an identity continue to be killed, raped, dishonored, disfigured and discriminated against. We have celebrated women’s day on 8th march and now we will celebrate Pakistan day on 23rd March. What has changed for the women of Islamic Republic of Pakistan? In fact the situation has become worst. The women of Pakistan are fighting a losing battle. Liberal dress code and the media portrayal of women or for that matter there large presence in the parliament remain cosmetic unless this prevalent mind set is openly challenged. Happy women day, Happy Pakistan day/In the Islamic republic of Pakistan in 2013, they continue to mourn the birth of a female child.