Woman – this one word has a lot to say. While women are constantly told that they have equal rights, in reality they are still constantly struggling. And yet they have been successful in making their mark in many fields.

We do tend to confuse rights with a lot of things that have got nothing at all to do with rights. For example, ‘women empowerment’ is considered synonymous with ‘westernization of women’, which in turn is considered the same as ‘forgetting values’, and the ‘traditional role’ in the society.

Sometimes women’s existence is considered questionable – definitely in those spheres that are ‘traditionally’ considered male-dominated. But the question remains why even in today’s modern world, where there are so many NGOs and human rights laws present, women in some parts of the world are treated in the same way as they used to be in pre-Islam Arabia?

Aren’t women supposed to be respected, given education or employed? Shouldn’t women be given the choice to take a decision on their own?

Why are we so afraid of empowering women? I guess the answer lies in our mindset and perspectives. The society as a whole needs to make the effort to give women free will. The will to go out to earn if needed, wear the clothes they want to and generally be in charge of their own lives.

We need to stop judging a woman’s character through her clothes. Wearing jeans is no testament of bad character, neither is a hijab or burka proof of piety. Furthermore, a ‘modernly dressed’ woman is not necessarily ignorant of house hold chores or her ‘traditional’ responsibilities either.

The most important factor that goes unaddressed in all discussions pertaining to women’s rights is how women inadvertently fuel misogyny and make lives difficult for fellow women. If we really think about it, the idea of truly respecting women should emanate from women.

The mother, who is responsible for her children’s upbringing, should teach her son that he isn’t superior to her sister. She should ask her son to help out in kitchen whenever possible. And she should be the one to stop her son the first time he tries to raise his hand on his sister or any other female members of the family.

Mothers should reinforce respect for women into the minds of their sons, without compromising gender equality.

The society, meanwhile, can play an important role by raising its voice if women are subjugated through violence, or are harassed in any way whatsoever. Support women and help them, rather than blaming them for their own suffering.

It’s time that we start telling our sons to unlearn the stereotypes that have been fueled regarding women and try to appreciate them for their bravery and roles that they play in a patriarchal society that tries to suffocate women in every possible way. This role could be anywhere between running the household to presiding over a company.