Social reforms

"We look at our history that Madar-e-Millat Fatima Jinnah participated in freedom struggle shoulder to shoulder with his brother Muhammad Ali Jinnah - the Quaid-e-Azam. It was a respectable way of working outside of your home"

We know that women’s life is not safe and comfortable. In general, they are not given their rights and proper respect. Especially in rural areas and lower stratum, they live a miserable life. Their murders for ‘honour’ are widespread. The lower classes’ working hours are much longer than men’s; they are prey to torture. In landlords’ families and upper classes, they are deprived of their inherited property. There are different western sponsored groups working for women’s rights and development. They want to bring our women equal to men in all walks of life. The question is, do we want to get our women ahead as the semi-nude western women? Do we like couple dances for all of our society? Is it possible and suitable for a community willing to follow Islamic teachings and values?

In general, Pakistani women are doing more and harder work than men. How can we get them out of the oppression of men wherever they are living a miserable life? On the other hand, there is the problem of those millions of women who, after completing their specializations in medicines and engineering etc, only sit at home and look after their homes. How can we bring them back to their invaluable work? This month in Hamdard Thinkers Forum, the topic was ‘Social reforms for women in light of the thoughts and struggle of the Madar-e-Millet’. Speaker Justice (r) Nasira Javed said that in Muslim societies, we see the vibrant role of women from the early days of the Pakistan Movement also. Fatima Jinnah’s role during the Pakistan Movement and after the national independence was exemplary.

Special Speaker Samia Raheel thought that we want to see women and men working shoulder by shoulder. But the best form for that could be at home. Outside the house, a certain distance between women and men is to be observed. We look at our history that Madar-e-Millat Fatima Jinnah participated in the freedom struggle shoulder to shoulder with his brother Muhammad Ali Jinnah – the Quaid-e-Azam. It was a respectable way of working outside of your home. In our history, Benazir Bhutto played an essential role in our politics. As members of the parliament, we also played our part in national politics by doing so many social and economic welfare jobs. This is a woman who relies upon the civilization of any country.

Our religion and society are proud of their relations with the women like mother, daughter, sister, and wife. During the presidential elections of 1965, Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah became the agreed-upon presidential candidate against General Ayub Khan. All parties launched an election campaign in her favor. This is a blatant example of our society’s honor of women of caliber. Prominent scholar Parveen Khan thought that woman is more potent than pen and sword. Referring to the Pakistan Movement, she said that Fatima Jinnah sacrificed for his brother and sacrificed for the Pakistan cause. This was she who brought the women out of homes to support the Pakistan Movement. She became a shelter for Quaid-e-Azam’s life. Farah Hashmi, who has established schools in many jails, pointed out the direction of social welfare work for the needy.

Professor Khalid Mehmood said that the exemplary character of Fatima Jinnah would stay in our hearts forever. Brig Riaz Ahmed Toor and Rashid Hijazi also participated in the discussion and highlighted the politicians working during the early parliamentary phase of Pakistan’s history. Rana Ameer Ahmed Khan said that Fatima Jinnah was a dentist when she felt that after the death of his wife, Quaid was depressed. He was found weeping for the first time in his life; it was a critical time for him. Fatima Jinnah left her dentist practice and decided to devote her life to serving her brother. Fatima Jinnah’s role is fascinating in our history. It must be taught in the schools and introduced through continual discussions and seminars.

Prominent politician Mehnaz Rafi opined that Madar-e-Millat Fatima Jinnah’s efforts gave consciousness to the nation. She served the cause of democracy and didn’t care for her personal goals. She said that the reason for Bangladesh’s development is its women. The government should help women to come ahead in every walk of life. Women should be given those tasks which are easy for them to perform. Jamaat Ali Shah said that nations want to remember their great leaders, but governments become a hindrance in this way. The country should build pressure on the governments for this purpose. Justice Nasira Javed concluded that Fatima Jinnah contributed to the national uplift. Our nation can learn a lot from Madar-e-Millat’s life.

With 50 years of teaching experience, Professor Dr. Shafiq Jullandhry, a noted writer and author of award-winning books, is former chairman of Punjab University's Mass Communication Department (now School of Communication Studies); also heads Elaaf Club and Pakistan Media Guild as president. He can be reached at drjullandhry@yahoo.com.

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