By Faz Zia
EVERY year, we celebrate the 8th March as Women’s Day but many don’t know why it is the 8th March. After women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia in 1917, March 8 became a national holiday there. The day was then predominantly celebrated by the socialist movement and communist countries until it was adopted in 1975 by the United Nations.( According to Wikipedia)
Although Women’s Day is encouraging, it is not enough to get empowerment. In fact I find the word “empowerment” a little uncomfortable. Why we are all using the word empowerment for women? I think that women are born empowered, she can handle everything by herself, however I do feel that awareness is important and that knowledge is necessary; with these two tools she can take her empowerment to the next level.
Education is the key, a girl with education and knowledge can go far from a man, if she doesn’t know her rights then no one can help her. In today’s society, knowledge is just a click away and we are constantly taking in new information and experiences.
I know there is a problem with equal pay and gender equality but pressure is also starting to build up. The #MeToo movement has been encouraging women to come out now and speak of their experiences and men will think twice or more to take any advantage from women. If we take a look at Asian society, there are still families where daughters are suppressed, they want to go for studies and get jobs but are not allowed. There are so many talented girls that go wasted and in a certain age they get married and parents think they are free from their responsibilities . My question for those parents is, is marriage is the only thing for your daughter? How is she going to survive if that marriage doesn’t work out? She has no education and no awareness of her rights.
All over the world there are many talks, seminars, conferences with big celebrities invited to talk, even Dutches of Sussex Meghan Markle will be joining the panel to discuss the importance of international women’s day.
In my personal opinion it is important to give a good education to your daughter, make sure she is independent in a sense to make her own decision and to not put so much pressure on marriage. Make sure she knows her rights and can fight for it, make sure she can stand up and respect herself. Many women suffered just because they couldn’t speak up or were scared to confront the situation and they live with that guilt and frustration.
Mukhtar Mai, vows she will not back down as she fights on for justice
At the time, we all were observing the International Women’s Day, Mukhatara Mai who was gang-raped on the orders of a village council to punish her brother has told how she has gone on to teach the children of her alleged attackers after setting up a school.
According to ‘Telegraph’, she renewed her fight for justice when she went back to Pakistan’s supreme court to petition against the acquittal of men previously convicted for the attack.
Her supporters hope a string of new laws as well as the Supreme Court’s decision to quash Asia Bibi’s blasphemy conviction show a shift in the judicial system to protect women.
Mukhtara Mai’s story caused international outcry in 2002 when it emerged a village council had ordered her rape because her 12-year-old brother was accused of having illicit relations with a woman from a powerful rival clan.
Rather than kill herself as custom might have expected, she swore she would have justice and her fight became an international cause célèbre. The council leader, a council member and the four men accused of carrying out the rape at gunpoint were at first sentenced to death by a local anti-terrorism court. But five of them were later acquitted on appeal and another had his sentence cut to life. In 2011 the Supreme Court upheld their acquittal. Ms Mai has been waiting since then to petition to review that decision.
“I have suffered for 17 years so I will keep coming back to this court again and again as long as it takes. I can’t stand down,” she said last week.
Ms Mai remained in her Punjab village after the attack and used her compensation and donations to set up a girls’ school and refuge. Several of the children of her alleged rapists have attended the school, she said.
“The parents don’t come, but other people from their families do come. They just find out about the kids education, they just want to inquire. It’s professional.”
Her attackers had at first tried to reach a compromise settlement with her, but she said she was determined to fight through the courts. None of the men had shown genuine remorse, she believed.
“On the one hand I was happy that the case was reactivated, but on the other hand I was anxious and a little apprehensive because the previous judgment was against me,” Mukhtara Mai added.