The other day, in class, we were discussing prejudices, and I said, “Well, I have seen extreme prejudices and stereotypes on all sides of the world against the other.” And my professor agreed.
And now, speaking of Pakistan. I am studying Social Integration in Spain, and I am the only Pakistani studying this in the region. A couple of people at the NGO where I volunteered, said, “Oh you must be so lucky that you are getting the opportunity to study. Oh my, in Pakistan, girl are not allowed to go to school.” And they referred to Malala Yousafzai, and the people who travel to the West from underdeveloped and rural areas from Pakistan, who still need a long way to go. This population is lessening day by day. Women and girls are becoming more visible in school, colleges, universities and work in Pakistan day by day. They have a part in the small scale industry and the handicraft industry.
Again, I realized that I had the “Is this person serious?” face? I explained that she is from a very conflictive area of Pakistan, where the fabled Taliban and such are trying to control the people and the Pakistan Army is fighting them. I know another old girl—Arfa Karim—who was a Certified Microsoft Professional at the age of nine. “Wait a second,” I answered. “Both my sisters are engineers and work in offices in Pakistan. Almost all of my teachers were females in the schools. Yes. We go to schools. In fact, my mum used to get angry when I tried to skip school. And we were not intercepted by anyone.”
The literacy rate, of youth females (% of females ages 15-24) in Pakistan was 61.46 as of 2009.Women have a big role in sports, in the fashion industry, in the TV shows—yes—the soap operas *roles eyes*, I was the captain of my football team in school. See? Schools do have girls in them. Universities have more women than men. There are more female doctors and nurses than men. Women fly fighter jets, are in the armed forces, are in the police, run shops, run boutiques, drive, and are shoulder to shoulder with men in the development of the country.
I remember an exhibition an association of the Pakistani community here held for Pakistan’s Independence day, and a minister was surprised to see women in all fields of life—something which he had not known earlier. And this made me realize something: the world believes what it is shown. The problem is not the mass media. The problem, in fact, is us. We choose to believe. We choose to have stereotypes and prejudices.
Oh, I almost forgot! In a positive move initiated by The Environment Protection Fund, an NGO in Lahore, ladies-only Pink Rickshaws driven by trained female drivers will soon take over the roads, eradicating the social stigma attached to them. The Environment Protection Fund has taken it upon itself to provide pink rickshaws on easy instalments and driving training to females seeking latest jobs in Lahore. As per Zara Aslam, President of the NGO, this initiative is marked to bring a lot of success, as it will help elevate the status of women in the society, give the working women means to earn their livelihood, boost their confidence as well as provide safety and comfort to females traveling in the city.
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