7 Women Breaking Stereotypes in Pakistan

Pakistan remains one of the most male-dominated societies in the world, and women still tend to be portrayed or stigmatised as subordinates. In the patriarchal culture of Pakistan, women are often limited to doing domestic work and forced to hide the talents and skills they possess.

Recently, however, more and more women have been breaking stigma and stereotypes by doing and achieving things traditionally seen as being ‘only for men’.

Here are 7 Pakistani women breaking stereotypes like they should be broken! 

Namira Salim

Namira Salim is the first Pakistani woman to reach the North and South Poles and, as a Founder Astronaut for Virgin Galactic, she’s the first future Space Tourist from South Asia to travel into space. Salim started her own initiative, SpaceTrust, which promotes Space as the New Frontier for Peace via novel peace theme initiatives to inspire change, encourage dialogue and enrich education.

Samina Baig 

Samina Baig is the first Pakistani woman to climb Mount Everest and the Seven Summits. She was awarded the Pride of Performance by the government of Pakistan, and runs initiatives that encourage women to take part in outdoor activities. Last year, Baig was appointed as the National Goodwill Ambassador for Pakistan by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Ayesha Farooq

“Instead of looking up to role models, become one yourself”Ayesha Farooq. Farooq is the first female to become a fighter pilot in the Pakistani Air Force. She’s also made history as the first woman to be assigned to one of Pakistan’s front-line dogfighting squadrons. 

Sana Mir

Sana Mir is the former Captain of the Pakistan national women’s cricket team. She was first female Pakistani cricketer to rank number one in the International Cricket Council bowler rankings, and led Pakistan to two gold medals in Asian Games in 2010 and 2014. Mir has been vocal in recent years when speaking out against body-shaming in sports advertising.

Zenith Irfan

Zenith Irfan is the first female motorcyclist to ride across Pakistan and an all-round bad-ass. After her father’s early death, Irfan decided to fulfil his dream to tour the world on a motorbike. The journey was a huge step in a country where it can be taboo for women to venture out alone, nevermind on a motorbike, and CNN have called her “Pakistan’s boundary-breaking motorcycle girl”. 

Tahira Safdar

Justice Tahira Safdar is the first woman chief justice of any court in the history of Pakistan, currently serving as the Chief Justice of Balochistan High Court (Balochistan is Pakistan’s largest province). In a patriarchal society like Pakistan, where the subject of law and the profession of judiciary are preserved for men, Tahira Safdar has set one of the finest and most inspiring examples for women in Pakistan.

Uzma Nawaz

Did you just say that car repairing can only be done by men? Well, Uzma Nawaz, the first female car mechanic in Pakistan, is here to prove you wrong.

These are just some of the women in Pakistan who have broken through in a society that’s still very much dominated by men. I find each of these women incredibly inspiring, and hope that they can be a source of inspiration for other women out there too. What are you waiting for?!

5 Feminist Resolutions for 2018

2017 was, in many ways, a fantastic year for women.

I want to make 2018 the year all your feminist dreams come true, with these five feminist New Year’s resolutions:

1. Listen To Learn 

There is no singular ‘female experience’. While many women share similar experiences of marginalization and oppression, we are not the same. Moments like #MeToo remind us that we must listen to women and believe what they say if we are to continue working towards equality. We must create an environment where women, minorities, and other underrepresented, marginalized groups can speak for themselves.

2.  Educate Yourself On Intersectionality  

Intersectionality theory was first developed by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989 as a way to explain marginalization of African-American women through the intersection of race, class, and gender. This intersection of identifiers remains relevant today and understanding how race, socio-economic status and gender marginalize some while empowering others is crucial. In 2018, we must continue marching together whilst acknowledging that each person is a person of diversity.

3. Collaborate With Women

In 2017, women kicked some serious butt. This was made possible by rallying at Women’s Marches worldwide and standing together to protest widespread sexual harassment and assault. As we continue fighting for equality, we must collaborate in new and creative ways. Make it your mission to break down old boundaries and rules by supporting the creativity and ingenuity of women around the world. We can all challenge our own assumptions and the assumptions of others to be the best possible versions of ourselves.

4. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is 

In the U.S. we vote with our dollar, and so by buying from minority- and women-owned businesses and understanding the costs of consumption we can proactively support the things we believe in. Many garments are made by women and children in developing countries, and in many cases workers are neither treated humanely nor paid fairly. By understanding where our clothing comes from, we can consume more intelligently. For example, Sseko Sandals is a female owned and operated brand using sustainable materials and supporting women’s higher education in Africa. There are so many ways to support women and minorities: donating to women’s organizations like Girls’ Globe or buying art from women and minority creatives. If you are not in a financial position to monetarily support other women, you can open your network or volunteer your time and expertise to help other women. The possibilities are endless!

5. Self Care Is Not Selfish

Take care of yourself. Make sure the people around you are taking care of themselves, too. And be patient with your self care. Sometimes you have to try something new, or spend more (or less) time taking care of yourself to feel at your best. I think that women often undervalue themselves, and so by caring for yourself you remind yourself and others that you are worthy of love and care.

What are your feminist resolutions for the year ahead? How are you going to make sure 2018 is a great year for gender equality…wherever you are in the world?