Pakistan, a nation that has witnessed and faced many conflicts, moments of triumph, victories, turmoils, and political predicaments over the past sixty-six years. A land where struggle for power is a constant battle amongst the elite, and this struggle has in return widened the gap between the rich and the poor. The more fragmented a society becomes, the more intolerant it becomes towards differing views. Once a nation begins to prefer polarized views and negates opinions that differ from its own predispositions and/or core values, that nation has officially begun its journey on a slippery slope. Fragmentation in Pakistan exists through socials classes, ideologies, sects, and especially within gender roles.
While Pakistan might be a safe haven for the rich and the elite, it is a land of inopportune for the powerless, and needy. For the past twenty-one years, a Christian woman by the name of Rashidah has been coming to my house in Sargodha, Pakistan to dispose our trash. As a routine Rashidah would come to our house in the afternoon when the scorching sun would be at its peak, she would take her shoes off in front of the gate out of respect and begin to ring the doorbell, letting us know of her arrival. She would enter our home by saying As-salamu alaikum (peace be upon you), and exit by wishing that God’s glory be with us. Rashidah would walk barefoot throughout our house while the burning pavement agonized her feet. If only she knew that her precious feet, and each step she took with them, were and are worth much more than the overpriced marbled floor. Rashidah, a true definition of humility and honor, educated her children as a single mother, with every ounce of sweat that dropped from her forehead. She often exclaimed that her only dream was to see her kids prosper in life in ways mightier than what her imagination could conjure up. Pakistan is filled with many more women like Rashidah who have struggled and are continuing to struggle for their own place in the male dominant society, in visions similar to that of Rashida’s, education is the answer.
When we are consumed with something, we begin to take it for granted, even something as grand and precious as education. Individuals who do not have the means and ability to acquire it have a longing much more severe than one could imagine. The patriarchal society of Pakistan has marginalized its less fortunate female population to a certain extent, especially when it comes to obtaining education. However, even though the literacy rates within the country are exceptionally low, Pakistan still manages to give birth to bright minds such as Malala Yousafzai, who at a very young age struggled for women empowerment and higher education. The ambition and fervor for education exists in Pakistan, however the freedom to obtain it is what majority of women in Pakistan still have to topple over. If only the voice of every female who longs for an education could be heard.