This International Women’s Day, Pakistan will stand tall. Every year, we come across women, that despite all odds, jump through tremendous hurdles to not only try to make Pakistan a better place to live, but also prove that any notions of them being a ‘weaker’ sex are senseless.

This year, we celebrate women’s achievements in film, sports, legislation and even physics.

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy made history by winning Pakistan’s second Academy Award. The 37-year-old has a daunting fight on her hands: to stop honour killings in Pakistan. One would assume she would be the darling of the nation, however, her triumph has given her naysayers another chance to fire a broadside at her- accusing her of only showing the negative side of Pakistan. She has stood her ground, calling her film an agent of change, making every rational Pakistani proud.

In a historic move, the Punjab Assembly (PA), passed the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Bill that will, for the first time, offer substantial protection to women against various forms of wrongful treatment. The bill is highly comprehensive, bringing several previously ignored offences under its gamut and encompasses domestic violence, emotional, economic and psychological abuse, cyber crime, stalking and abetting of offenders. Despite its shortcomings, it should be seen as a momentous feat for our country.

The world also met Karachi-born quantum astrophysicist Nergis Mavalvala, a member of the team of scientists that announced on Thursday the scientific milestone of detecting gravitational waves, ripples in space and time hypothesised by physicist Albert Einstein a century ago.

Even though, her nationality is a topic that is highly contested, what matters is how this woman proved that they are many women in our country who given the opportunity could indeed soar.

This Women’s Day, while celebrating, one must also ponder over the long journey ahead, before Pakistan can truly call itself a female-friendly nation. Society cannot grow if it clings to such a distorted sense of justice where one gender is allowed unbridled power over the other. Rather than tremble with the fear of female independence, men and society at large need to assimilate cultural notions with those of equality. But for now, there is much to be proud of.