Zahrah Nasir Give the lady in red a chisel, the one wearing blue a saw; the one with her hair uncovered a screwdriver and the one in a dupatta a spanner as, move over men, womens lib is making inroads into the 'Land of the Pure like never before. Pakistani women, unless they are filthy rich of course, have always done more than their fair share of work and, like their sisters around the world, probably always will as, in one thing at least, we are all equal in being born with the invisible words Born to be exploited indelibly tattooed across our foreheads. The very first job for many is the task of looking after younger siblings, keeping them out of the mischief we ourselves long to get into, whilst wiping their noses in the process. We look after them at school if, that is, we are lucky enough to attend an institute of learning. We protect them from bullies, back up their white lies if necessary and, heaven help us, allow them to take full advantage of all our inborn sweetness and light. On the home front: we quickly learn to help in the kitchen, help with the cleaning, help with the ironing, help with the animals if we have them, help with the crops, with hauling water, with whatever is expected of us while our brothers run wild, having the time of their lives playing cricket, football et al. We are, unless we rebel, meticulously groomed to replicate our mothers whom, having been reared in a different age and having been reared to replicate their own mothers in turn, see absolutely nothing wrong with this exploitative scenario which, ultimately and all going well, results in marriage, children and subjugation to the men in our lives. Daring to be different has no place in tradition as, being determinedly different is tantamount to turning our backs on traditional beliefs and mores, shaming our parents in the process, rendering ourselves 'unmarriageable too boot. However, this is no longer the 19th or even 20th century but the adventurous 21st and standing up for oneself as an individual is becoming more acceptable, in some stratas of society, not all, than it ever was before and Pakistani females are rightly proud to wear the uniforms of the armed forces and police, the white coats of doctors and dentists, the power suits of bankers and business executives and, lets face it, the pay packets come in handy even if, after crawling or driving home from a hard days work, we have to get on our hands and knees to do the housework, deal with fractious children and husbands with their noses way off joint if we happen to earn more than them. Luxuriate as we may in the unquestionable fact that we are quite capable of beating men in the career stakes, when truthfully examined in the clear light of day, under a microscope on a moonless night if you prefer, working women, as compared to their male counterparts, are ruthlessly exploited on all fronts, predominantly the home one. Men wake up in the morning expecting their clean clothes to be ready and ironed, their breakfast organised, the children under control, their day completely free of the mundane necessities of life. Not so for the working woman who has to choreograph every single thing and every single person in the household before she can 'escape to work, then return to another form of work when she comes back home. Pleading exhaustion will not render the demands of husbands, children, relatives, friends, servants, shopkeepers, the laundry guy, the entire world and its inhabitants invisible as, dont forget this for one single second, you are 'there to serve 'them. Despite the odds, maybe because of them in some instances, more and more of the female population are determined to work, to earn some 'extra cash so that they can splurge on personal luxuries from time to time although, somehow, this never actually happens as the womans wage inevitably becomes part and parcel of the household income, being gobbled up from so many different directions at once that you wonder how on earth you managed without it. Men, on the other hand, those creatures who are supposed to support you and 'your children, usually manage to buy themselves the latest electronic gadgets, a new car now and then, arrive home bearing new clothes which they didnt really need, book exotic holidays which your income is supposed to pay for, yet they never ever have the cash to pay the butcher, the baker, let alone the candlestick maker if one should actually step out of the annals of history and land up on your doorstep To top it all, as if enough wasnt already 'E-nough with a capital 'E, women in Hunza of all places, are, thanks to the Agha Khan Rural Support Programme, currently being trained aswait for ithere goeselectricians, plumbers, carpenters and even masons which, well intended as this may be, takes womens liberation, gender equality, call it what you will, to completely new levels of subversive exploitation. 'Subversive as it further tips the scales towards complete freedom from responsibility for self-seeking males as their 'mate can now not only slave over the kitchen sink but also fix it when the drain gets blocked and 'exploitation as, even after a tough days hard labour on a building site, the lady of the house will still be expected to perform her daily chores plus, and this is where the ultimate danger lies, if women dont stand up and draw the line, erect barricades of razor wire, then a few years down the line, men are going to see no reason, indeed have no reason, to work at all. Ladies beware The writer is a freelance columnist.