Resistance Against Inequality: Pakistan Must Embrace Feminism
Feminism in international relations is taking impetus and the role of women is being described as inevitable for global progress. Feminism has emerged as feminist theories in international relations ever since the 1990’s. Feminism surged to breakdown the bonding between manly men, war and states. The theories brought the concept of what role the gender plays and how relevant and empirical it is for analytically understanding global power relations.
It not only explains the global politics but also normative structure of a state from which world orders come into being. Feminist theories challenged the mainstream realism and liberalism concept of world politics. It has also contributed to international relations by shifting its focus from confined inter-state relations towards multidisciplinary approach like that of transnational actors, what their structure is and how they are transforming the global politics.
Women participation in the international politics has always been minimal, which is why feminism is important. Women are more prone to being involved in social movements than contributing in policy making. Traditionally, the role most women have been remembered for in politics is being a leader’s or diplomat’s wife and not the decision maker.
Moreover, the voice of a woman is rarely heard in the arena of state power or in militaries despite the fact that the decision these institutions make have the maximum impact on women.
Feminism gives every individual particularly women the power to raise their voice against this inequality and to achieve political, social, economic, and personal empowerment. Feminism is an ideology which is inbuilt in humans through their thinking and feminist theories becoming a part of international relations just filled the void.
Feminist wave in Pakistan — how is the society responding?
Now the question if feminism is on the right path particularly in Pakistan needs to be addressed.
While feminism is on the right course of action, the society in Pakistan is not ready to acknowledge this change. Pakistan is one of the many patriarchal societies which has fixed norms and cultural beliefs and any sort of intervention is considered an external threat which might alienate the standardised norms and beliefs.
Women are maltreated by the male-oriented set up but the society always turns a blind eye towards it. Women development especially in the rural areas is always hindered by the male dominance. According to stats, only 45% of the women are known to be literate as compared to 69% of men. However, not to ignore that the merit to become a literate person is just to know how to endorse your name. In Pakistan, women have to undergone every kind of torture and violence starting from uncountable and unreported domestic violence cases to 3791 cases of acid attacks. Hundreds of girls be from a 10 year old to 40 year old women are raped, gang raped, assaulted and murdered every year.
Sexual harassment be it on the streets or at workplace is so commonplace that women do not even feel safe to go out alone. In the rural areas, little girls are bought and sold, forced to marry and what not.
Such atrocities can be eradicated if the concept of feminism is seen as a light of hope and women who speak up against institutional flaws and gendered issues are empowered and their voices amplified.
Historically, the only time the society have made amendments to grant women their rights is when women have been loud, unapologetic and awaked to eliminate the sexism and discrimination. In the 1973 constitution of Pakistan it does grant rights of women in every way possible but there is no use of such documented work when implementation is not done. The following are the constitutional rights:
“Article 25 (1), (2), (3)
25 (1) declares all citizens to be equal before law and entitled to equal protection of law and
25 (2) states that there shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex alone.
25 (3) Allows the State to create special laws and rules for specific issues facing women and children, which are being ignored.
Article 34: Ensures full participation of women in all spheres of national life.
18th Amendment: Devolves most social issues to provinces and gives them responsibility for legislation and initiatives regarding those women’s rights issues that fall within the purview of provinces. 18th Amendment has increased resources to provinces to work on women’s empowerment.”
Implementation of laws remains missing
If these laws were being implemented, there would not be an 11 per cent increase in rape cases in just a year from being 3,445 in 2017 to 3832 in 2018. A lot of women living in the urban areas or developed cities are privileged enough to enjoy the leverages the constitution is providing because these women are aware of their rights. These women have access to education and they know how to stand up for themselves, but what about those vulnerable women living in the far flung areas who might not even know if the constitution offers any kind of protection? Isn’t it the government’s duty to alert the people that any sort of cruelty will not be tolerated and jurisdiction will take strict actions?
The Pakistani government needs to work towards fixing the dysfunctional institutions so that they practice the laws made to enhance the socio-political and economic position of women in the country and get equal job opportunities and equal pays.