I feel lucky to be living in this day and age when terms such as women’s rights, women empowerment, feminism and slogans like ‘Education for all’ can be heard and fought for in all spheres of life.
And yet, there are days when I’m left baffled by women themselves. Women, who seem to me, to be their own WORST enemy. I was forwarded a video clip of a morning show in which a famous Pakistani celebrity was publicising her views on having no desire to educate her daughter because this would make it difficult to find a compatible dulha for her. I can almost see your reaction as you read this – you are rubbing your eyes to make sure you read my words right, scratching your head in confusion and then slowly shaking it in utter dismay. This was my reaction too when I saw this video of the very popular Fiza Ali who has ruled our magazines and TV sets as a model, actress and show host since 1999…almost two decades!
After I saw this video, I ran a little check on her educational background but unfortunately, nothing substantial came up. But by then, I was not even surprised. The reason I felt the need to do a little digging was because I couldn’t for the life of me fathom what could make her give such an ignorant response when asked about her plans for her daughter’s future. Even if she was a lucky damsel who had made a name for herself without having a sound education, HOW could she want the same for her daughter?
Many of you might argue ‘Her daughter, her choice’ but we all know that these TV shows and these celebrities are not only watched but revered by the lower and middle strata of our society. So, basically when Fiza says that all she dreams about for her daughter is to make her a dulhan, she is subliminally telling the audience that it is okay, in fact, PREFERABLE to do so. The cherry on top was when she said that there was no need for her daughter to go through the rigours of education when she could simply marry into an affluent family where her husband and in-laws would be at her back-and-call!
How many people from our lower and middle class can marry their daughters off into rich families?
How can we forget that today her young daughter is the mother of tomorrow?
Yes, yes…I know that 60-70 years ago, mothers were more equipped with religious education and household duties and yet, they managed to raise fine gentlemen and ladies. I myself belong to a generation where my mom had minimal interference (or understanding) in my academics as I coped on my own year after year. But those were different times. People led simpler lives, there was less competition in academics and children were raised with little or no influence from the media.
Coming back to what Fiza Ali said…just for a moment let’s think about her daughter growing up and wanting to be a doctor, an engineer or any other highly qualified professional. Will she have to face a mother who will CRUSH her dreams? Will she be married off early despite not wanting to, JUST so she lands the perfect dulha?!
My mind was still reeling at Fiza Ali’s not-so-ambitious plans for her daughter when I came across another ‘offering’ on media – an ad with thankfully, contrasting content to what I just ranted about – the Lifebuoy campaign which shows the dream every mother SHOULD have for her daughter! It’s tagline “Mazboot banegi, meri beti parhegi” brought tears of relief and hope to my eyes that a consumer brand and that too, one which caters to the middle and lower strata incidentally, took the initiative to make a beautiful TVC which is the need of the hour!
The ad depicts a Pakistani woman’s dreams about getting her daughter educated, empowering her and making her stronger than she herself could ever be. And this is how it SHOULD be – where a mother has bigger dreams for her daughter and the daughter has even bigger ambitions to fulfil those dreams. It’s ironically sad how beautifully this ad has captured the true need of Pakistani society while all our actresses can do is doll up and keep us in the dark ages!
Let me tell you something about myself so that you may try to understand why this is so important to me. I have been blessed with the best parents. My mother agreed to tend to my third born who was only three-years-old when I decided to attend classes and then, prepare for my diploma in Remedial Teaching and that too at the ripe age of 34 years! She did EVERYTHING for my son during that time including school pick-ups, lunch time, shower time and even his nap time. She was quite literally my pillar of support and I loved watching her eyes sparkle when I shared my achievements with her. But had she thought that my life would simply be about graduating, getting married and settling down, I would NEVER have been able to pursue my dreams at all!
And let’s not forget that there will ALWAYS be the need for lady doctors, engineers, pilots, teachers and many more such professionals, especially in a conservative country like Pakistan, and these professions can only be pursued IF girls are allowed and encouraged to be educated.
So, Fiza Ali (and all people who are in a position to influence others) please, PLEASE think a little before uttering such thoughts that will take our society even deeper into the abyss of ignorance!
Your status comes with that responsibility.