Mobility and women empowerment | By Dr Zia Ahmed


Mobility and women empowerment

PAKISTANI post-colonial fiction, like any other post-colonial fiction being generated by many South Asian states, advocates women’s mobility for their empowerment and portrays the success stories of such women.

Pakistani novel, especially post-9/11, has showcased several success stories of women because of their power of mobility.

The world of literary narratives may be taken as a beacon light or the light at the end of the tunnel because in real life, too, this has been realized and accepted that if a woman has the power or capacity to move for her business, job or learning is much more mentally and physically robust as compared to the women who mostly spend their time at home.

On the one hand, if women’s mobility brings multidimensional benefits, it also has its dark side.

The modern age, when we can see many women highly qualified as doctors, engineers, computer experts and PhDs in humanities and other sciences, makes the mobility of women essential in different segments of society.

This is particularly concerning Pakistani society because, for a long time, a more significant number of women have been restricted in mobility.

So, they gained very little power, not even in their matters. A woman who can move about quickly and feels not threatened during her movement proves to be the most helpful member of their own home and society.

Women who can move outside and conduct their day-to-day affairs demonstrate a significant economic asset and workforce.

They help double the income benefit for the homes; they are connected to and contribute much to the country’s economy and GDP because they can hold half of the Pakistani society.

A woman with the power of mobility learns and earns both. She can better grasp the difficulties and issues of the world around them and become a role model for the next generation and their fellow folks.

Women with the power of mobility are better social beings because they spend more time in positive activities and shared public spaces.

Their functioning improves, and they can perform better. Besides these socio-financial benefits, a woman with the power of mobility helps other women achieve their voice and can raise the issues relevant to women in the country and proceed with their solutions.

This social mobility enables them to form and launch a group to voice their opinion and get first-hand knowledge and awareness of their duties and rights, which helps them gain control of their bodies and properties.

A woman with the power of mobility can earn and save money for her daughter; as was suggested by Virginia Woolf, women should also leave a legacy and inheritance for their daughters as men go for their sons.

Besides the home-based industry, women, therefore, take an active part in the outside world to achieve all the above targets and transfer them to the next generations.

Now in the 21st century, it is the utmost duty of the government to provide solutions for the issues and problems relevant to women’s mobility.

We have educated our women and have brought them to contribute to the job market, but we have not provided any solid system and infrastructure for this; in the advanced countries of the world, facility centres have been created where working mothers can leave their loved ones to keep themselves fully engaged in their work but so far this type of infrastructure is still waiting to be developed in Pakistan.

Besides, the sensitization of men in our society for women with mobility has not been raised to the level where women would feel safe even in the workplaces and markets.

Even today, a woman would like to have the company of her man on the street to feel safe. Neither have the successive government carried their much-touted agenda for protecting women inside and outside the home, creating more socio-political issues for women instead of gaining any valuable benefits from their mobility.

Women mobility-friendly steps must be taken to tap this 50 per cent human resource of Pakistan, including creating day-care centres, providing safe and secure transport facilities, and creating women-friendly offices and business infrastructures.

The creation of a women-friendly and sustainable infrastructure will be supportive in strengthening a softer image of Pakistan for the outside world on the one hand, and, on the other hand, it will be a boost to the concept of Pakistan as a welfare state.

It will further save us from several crimes and socio-political issues around us. The acceptability level of working women in society may also be increased with awareness and social campaigns at a more significant level so that we may have better knowledge and the benefits of women’s mobility for work.

Easy installment loans for vehicle purchases and small business loans must be created especially for women so that they can begin their own earning for financial and socio-political independence and empowerment.

—The writer is a Professor of English at Emerson University, Multan, and has a vast international exposure.


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