With the increase in gender issues around the globe, feminism in our society has penetrated the mainstream in the neck of time. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, feminism hits like a ball of fire without considering the diversification of geography and even culture.

Women are not just similar based on biology, but they are united in a history of oppression for a long time. Still we cannot say that feminism is a monolith because the history of each country may be different, the oppression of one geography might be different and in the same instance the problems of women would perhaps might also be different considering the socio-political context. Hence it is essential to understand feminism with a different lens and reconsider this movement of equality in Pakistan.

My body, my will- the body is a personal entity to be exercised as per a woman’s will. The notion is indeed very satisfactory and can put an end to the oppression set upon women to greater deal. However if you view from a geo-political perspective, embracing the body has a definition that is suitable for a certain group of women- not all the women of the world. Siam, a 60-year-old woman, was asked to remove her burkini on beach in France and was fined for not showing her skin. The question here arises that if Siam is embracing her body by covering it, then how can others force her to do it their way?

This is where the actual problem lies; woman around the globe believe in one definition of feminism and they think that their definition of feminism is the right definition of feminism. Sadly, men are also forcing their ideas about what they feel about women bodies and this is where oppression get even worse. Therefore, the woman’s body is now governed not just by other woman but by men as well. Let the woman decide what she has to say considering her geography, culture , religion and many other factors. The purpose of embracing the body is to feel confident and be able to decide what is best for woman but this too has resulted in oppression.

Adding on, for several reasons, feminist activists in Pakistan have been dismantling culture and religion to a great deal. We as Pakistani women believe that feminism is a concept of west and westernization; this sometimes results in situation where we, in certain admiration of the west, follow it the western brand of feminism blindly, without thinking of its precautions. Not to say that Western feminism is a horrific instance, it has indeed resulted in amazing miracles in the west but is it applicable in Pakistan? This year on International Women’s Day, we saw several strikes on the road in the name of female liberation, but those had little results for female empowerment and were mocked greatly a few days after, with a massive majority of young boys mocking women with the taunt “Apny kam khud kro”.

Furthermore, Pakistan right now is not on the verge of accepting a great rift, therefore the movement must tread a bit more sensibly, taking in consideration the cultural and religious prospects. It is true that a certain elite group of Pakistan has always been vocal of woman rights- and this movement has been devoid of the massive majority of female population of the country, who belong to the middle and lower middle class, who perhaps have a different set of cultural values incompatible with this brand of feminism. To get those women involved, we cannot forsake religion entirely in Pakistan since it caters a massive majority. In this dilemma, Islamic feminism can be a compatible solution.

We must also let go of the anti-men sentiment that is often found in our feminist circles. We see a lot of instances where women empowerment platforms bash men openly and portray them as villain- thus alienating what could be important allies. On the other hand, there are men bashing women simply because they are feminist. This is creating a chaotic relationship between both the genders.

It is high time, that we take another look into what is happening in Pakistan in the name of equality. The women empowerment forums must consider the moderate way while critically understanding the culture and religion before taking the last step abruptly. We cannot blame the women empowerment organizations, or religion or culture or even the political structure for that matter. As a society, we must understand dynamics and try to come up with solutions. We should consider a moderate way to deal with this movement of equality so we can result in actual betterment of women of Pakistan’s lives rather than damaging the situation further.


The writer is MPhil in English Literature.