Colloquium 2018

Representing Gendered Worlds

Agency and the Feminine: Reading Saba Mahmood and Re-reading Mulan

Hasan Hameed
Institute of Business Administration

(1998) Mulan was marketed as a break from the stereotypical trope of the ‘damsel in distress’ characteristic of the popular Disney Princesses line. Yet despite Mulan overshadowing the male protagonist in defeating the villains in the climactic scenes of the movie, Mulan was criticized by scholars for ultimately reinforcing gender stereotypes in Mulan’s subsequent refusal to become the King’s advisor and return to her family. Using Frantz Fanon’s ([1952] 2008) analysis of racism in Black Skin White Masks, this paper argues that such a reading posits a crisis for third world feminism by reducing any authentic liberation to one conceived in opposition to the particular binaries produced in the Euro-American experience. Instead, this paper offers a fresh reading of Mulan by looking at agency in terms of Simone de Beauvoir's ([1949] 2011) idea of ‘transcendence,’ on the one hand, and the late Saba Mahmood’s (2005) re-articulation of 'agency' in her groundbreaking Politics of Piety on the other. Using the Hegelian ([1807] 1998) idea of the absolute as both substance and subject, this paper argue that Mulan inverts and transcends binaries that have long dominated Anglo-American (and other) visual regimes of representation: public/private, active/passive, and mind/body. My reading of Mulan opens up possibilities for a truly indigenous feminism and thus represents a crucial breakthrough for third world feminism as it moves away from both a dominating 'Western' shadow and an essentialist 'Eastern' reaction by thoroughly provincializing Europe (Chakrabarty 2000) in both theory and practice.

The State and the Subaltern: Bureaucratic Violence Against Women in Partition Cinema

Ilsa A Razzak 
Institute of Business Administration

This paper looks at two films on Partition: Shyam Benegal’s Mammo (1996) and Srijit Mukherjee’s Begum Jaan (2017). The former presents Mehmooda’s story of return to her sister’s place in Bombay from Lahore after she is widowed. The state however, refuses to allow her to stay permanently and she defies it by declaring herself as dead and becoming “stateless”. In Begum Jaan, a group of prostitutes are asked to evacuate their brothel in 1947 as the Radcliffe Line is being drawn through it. They too refuse the state’s demands and resist through physical battle, eventually committing suicide. The paper aims to draw attention to how the films visually depict bureaucratic violence against women; a form of aggression that happens not only in 1947 but even after it. This particular kind of violence is conceptualised by Vazira Zamindar in The Long Partition (2007) as that of “drawing political boundaries and nationalizing identities that became, in some lives, interminable.” In Begum Jaan, it is presented as the drawing of a border and in Mammo, as the imposition of identities.

The paper questions whether the women in these films are effective agents against bureaucratic violence, and if the films can act as counter-memory to the narrative of Partition violence through a visual representation of resistance. This is because both films end with suicide as an act chosen by the women, even if it is only symbolic suicide in Mammo. The paper draws upon Urvashi Butalia’s work (1993) to understand agency and uses Jill Didur (2007) to ponder upon ethnic identities in the context of Partition violence against women. Since the method is visual analysis, it borrows from Kavita Daiya (2008) and Deepti Misri (2014) for they too analyse Partition cinema and Swatti Chattopadhyay (2005) for an understanding of space and its representation. The representation of women’s bodies also becomes essential because the films imagine resistance through them. Eventually, “The State and the Subaltern” seeks to move away from analyses of physical violence towards a representation of bureaucratic violence and the agency of women in Partition cinema.

Imagination of Bodies in Punjabi Folklore from Colonial Punjab

Mariam Ali Bokhari
Lahore University of Management Sciences

This paper attempts to understand how the body is imagined in folklore collected by R.C. Temple between 1884 and 1900 from colonial Punjab. These stories and ballads were collected from bards who were hired to perform Punjabi literary texts, and contain many well-known folktales such as the story of Hir and Ranjha, as well as other lesser known tales. These stories speak of many different types of bodies such as mortal and immortal bodies as well as the body of the saint, gods, jogis and other heroes and heroines with shape-shifting abilities. I will be focusing on a number of these stories closely, and will be tracing and establishing various imaginations of the body that I manage to identify. I will primarily be making two arguments: (1) the body is imagined as a site of conflict and the imagination of the body as such is gendered; (2) the body is also imagined as an exhibit of beauty, and the conception of beauty in these stories flees gendered understandings and is instead imagined in genderless terms. This study is driven by a desire to understand how the producers and consumers of these stories imagined the body, and whether these imaginations can offer 21st century readers different, perhaps even non-gendered, ways of imaging the body.

Men and Masculinities

Masculinities of Shi’ite Men in Karachi, Pakistan

Sana Gondal
Habib University

Sexual assault is primarily associated with a crime committed upon women. It remains a taboo topic and where discussed is done inventively by questioning a girl’s dress, honour and character. Masculinity when confronted with cases of such assault has not claimed the same space for discussion. It remains a greater taboo as it blemishes the ideals of masculinity associated with strength, power and independence. The query presented is how courts deal with issues of sodomy where violence is committed on men by other men. Firstly, the laws and statistics will be introduced after which judgements of the High Courts and the Supreme Court will be looked at to analyse the treatment given to rape cases as regards the cases on sodomy. Are judges affected by certain biases or do they hold similar biases against male survivors? Does the reputation or character of either kind of survivors affect the mitigation of sentences? Next, this paper will look at work conducted on male assault survivors and how assault affects men in their relationships as well as society’s outlook on masculinity where such assault goes unreported and unpunished. In conclusion, through discussing the view of courts and research, this undertaking will present recommendations for tackling with abuse in our society as well as how discussions of masculinity need to evolve.

Masculinity in Popular fiction: 1971 War

Sanaullah Khan
Lahore University of Management Sciences

My research aims to understand how “masculinity” is understood and what role it plays in the lives of men that fall in the age group of 18-24. I want to pay particular attention to what “masculine” roles entail for them, how this understanding comes into being, whether this understanding aligns with that of ‘social’ masculinity, and if efforts have been made to challenge their predefined functions in society.I have found that there is a clear dichotomy between what men perceive as the ‘social’ definition of masculinity, and the definition that they have created for themselves. Therefore, I aim to explore the concept of fluidity in masculine identities, and the reasons behind this fluidity. Through that, I would like to understand whether or not men feel subjugated and constrained by having to live according to a preordained conception of masculinity that they were born into. The paper uses in-depth unstructured interviews coupled with participant observation to obtain a more direct understanding of how men perceive their world.

Psycho-emotional Problems of Males in Shelter Homes

Khadija Mazhar
Fatima Jinnah College for Women

There has been a trend in dropout rate of boys from low cost private schools as they approach the years of secondary education. Whereas most academic literature on the issue of gender gaps in education tend to focus only on female dropout rate and suggest policies to improve only female literacy level. The policy interventions from government are centred on female literacy. Under influence of smart economics where donations and grants from donor and aid agencies are overwhelmingly channeled towards education of girls, the boys are silently dropping out of school. This study aims at examining the reasons behind considerable male dropout rate and to suggest holistic policies which would account both genders as a part of the same equation. The research was conducted in three urban dwellings where low income families and low cost private schools tend to cluster: Greentown, Gopi Rai and Johar Town. A detailed interview was taken from 31 dropped out boys (11-19 years old) along with 23 parents and 11 teachers from seven low cost private schools. The sample is restricted only to low cost private schools because free education in public schools results in different opportunity cost of keeping a boy in school. The numerous opportunities in informal labour market, no entry barriers in informal labour, multi grade teaching, large classroom size, order of birth and opportunity cost of boys’ time force parents to pull out their male child to help them share the economic burden. A comprehensive policy should be drafted to gauge the pattern of drop out students from low cost private schools. It is necessary to keep boys in school because otherwise they are just becoming part of a large unemployed male labour force, which sits at home, inflicts domestic violence, engage in drug abuse and criminal activities. It is important to talk about male drop out because it affects not only the boys but it also affect their families. In existing patriarchal setting, male head will remain the decision maker even if he is not the sole bread winner of family. So these unskilled boys are less likely to make better decisions regarding education, mobility and social participation of women of their family.

The Feminist Legacy(-ies) of Asma Jahangir
1. Noor EjazShe is an advocate of the High Courts of Pakistan, and was working with Ms. Asma Jahangir as one of her personal associates. She is still working at the law firm, and handling legal aid cases in the High Courts. Noor is also a lecturer for Human Rights at the LLB.
2. Aimen BuchaShe worked with Asma Jahangir at AGHS Legal Aid Cell. She is a lecturer at Beaconhouse National University and a feminist activist.
3. Sana NaeemShe is a senior law student at LUMS and has also been announced as the Rhodes Scholar-Elect for 2018. She has worked with the LUMS Feminist Society in various capacities to create a more gender sensitive environment on campus. Currently she is studying the gendered nature of legal spaces by conducting research in the Peshawar High Court.
Trans* Activism and Narratives

Transphobia and Religious Orientation in University

Naila Akram
University of Punjab

Transgender persons are one such group of people who are been marginalized in almost allsocieties of the world. Research shows that transgenders are even more overlooked by the rest of the LGBT community (Claman, 2008). They lack social acceptance because of non-conforming behavior and it is considered pathological (Eksin & King, 1996) and a threat to cultural and religious values. Hence, negative attitudes of people result in transphobia and discriminatory treatment of transgender individuals (Claman, 2008). Moreover, religious people have conservative views about sexuality and gender roles (Crooks & Baur, 2005). Literature also suggests that strength in religious practice is an important indicator for influencing attitudes towards transgenders (Yip, 2007). Therefore, the present study will examine the relationship between transphobia and religious orientation in university students. It is hypothesized that there is likely to be a positive relationship between transphobia and religious orientation in university students. There is also likely to be gender differences in transphobia and religious orientation. Survey method will be used to collect data using questionnaires. Correlation and independent sample t-test will be run to analyze the data using the spss (statistical package for social sciences).

Exploring Transgender Individuals’ Subjective Experiences of Travelling on Karachi’s Gender-Binary Public Buses

Neha Panjwani
Habib University

Current scholarship on gender and urban mobility is largely centered around women and the challenges rhey face in using public transit. Thus, it fails to account for the phenomenological experiences of other non-binary genders in accessing this public service. This thesis endeavors to fill the conceptual gap in mobility literature by highlighting the subjective experiences of the transgender (khwājā sīrā) community in relation to Karachi’s public transportation. Despite recently being granted legal status in the country, khwājā sīrās (also commonly known as hījrās – though this is deemed derogatory) suffer from rampant harassment, systematic exclusion and limited access to justice, among other forms of discrimination. Drawing on primary and secondary data findings, this research points to the empirical reality of transgender lives. These are not just imagined identities, they are bodies that move around, use public spaces, and as a vulnerable group rely on public services therefore their invisibility and erasure in service provision, not to mention the bulk of scholarship on public transport represents serious failures to recognize their presence and legitimacy of “being” in the politico-cultural landscape. The research aims to assess the complex dynamics of their inclusion/exclusion from transit spaces, resulting in a differentiated mobility experience – one that not only brings to the fore their existential legitimacy, or their systematic oppression, but also the located and contextual negotiation of “difference”. By using the paradigms of symbolic interactionism, phenomenology, and structuralism this paper examines the narratives of khwājā sīrās, transit officials, and male/female commuters to understand how prejudicial gendered norms and lack of dedicated space on the public bus creates located experiences of social marginalisation for this gender non-conforming community.

The Omitted Trans Narratives: A Guide to Transgender Activism in Pakistan

Younis Azeem, Muhammad Salman Khan & Afnaan Qayyum
Lahore University of Management Sciences

The transgender community in Pakistan has always been forced to dwell behind the shadows due to a lack of state recognition in legal and social terms. It comprises of a population estimated to lie anywhere between 350,000-500,000 members, comprising of many categories such as the Trans men, Trans women (inclusive of hijras), Trans non-binary, Khawaja-Siras among others with some having had near to no public recognition in the country. Historically, the problems faced by the community relating to multi-sphere discrimination and targeted violence, among a multitude of others, have failed to attain a priority status as far as the government is concerned. This paper intends to uncover this forgotten past, and places it in the present context of a recent bill of rights that is unprecedented in terms of the constructive collaboration it embodies between the Pakistani state and the community. The paper will also analyze in depth through the establishment of relevant timelines the impact of past legislation and political movements on the subject and cultural and media attention on the matter. It seeks to link such information together alongside the views of both the community as well as a wider cisgender audience to gain insight on past state actions, perceived effectiveness of the current bill and the everyday life of a transgender person in Pakistan. The paper relied on news articles from reputable Pakistani papers, relevant journal articles and most significantly primary research gathered through members of the transgender community using a combination of focus groups and interviews of key figures and activists in the community.

Gender, Language and Religion

Gendered Language and Stereotypical Thought

Dua Rashid
Habib University

The dispute over whether thought is dependent on language – linguistic relativity – or is independent of it has baffled many. This paper explores if, and how, language plays a role in cognition; particularly shedding light on gendered language affecting the perpetuation of sexist stereotypes as one example of it. Using the literature review of two very well-known linguists, Steven Pinker and Lera Boroditsky, this paper highlights their work along with other case studies conducted on linguistic relativism. Pinker completely denies the concept of linguistic determinism and deems thought to be independent of the language we speak. According to him, the idea that thought is the same thing as language is a conventional absurdity. Lera, on the other hand, is a firm believer of linguistic determinism more commonly known as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis or Whorfianism named after the linguists Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf. Whorfianism is a theory in linguistics which claims that thought is dependent on language.

Going through two completely opposing stances of Pinker and Lera, this paper illuminates both sides discussing what each linguist says about linguistic relativism along with multiple case studies that support their claims. This paper concludes that language does influence thought and subtle everyday gender bias such as language gender asymmetries do initiate a chain reaction of problematic stereotypes and over-arching generalisation. It also sheds light on the effects of such stereotypes in workplaces, for instance. Providing several examples, this paper elucidates how something as crucial as gender equality is dependent on the mere choice of words we make in our daily lives. Therefore, we should stay acutely mindful of the fact that the words we use to communicate in our daily lives aren’t arbitrary and inconsequential. We may think they are of no significance and consequently dismiss them, but they play a huge role in shaping the way we think about the world. If we are to reduce the tensions in inequality that occur at higher levels, we should attempt to change the way we converse.

From Corporeal Proximity to Imagined Presence: Networks of Companionship & the Pursuit of Piety in an Online Madrasa Community

Maria Haqqani 
Institute of Business Administration

Companionship, referred to as ṣuḥba (Arabic) within Sufi circles, traditionally relies upon the physical presence of the companion. Corporeal presence is expected to radiate a kind of thermal energy enabling of a moral disposition that helps one come closer to God. Some scholars also argue that reading tales of one’s pious predecessors is tantamount to being in and learning from their physical presence, and hence forms another aspect of ṣuḥba. The past decade, however, has witnessed the emergence of the concept of “online-ṣuḥba”—a term employed by a few online madrasas (Islamic seminaries) that disseminate religious education. This thesis explores how the students of one such women’s madrasa partake of online-ṣuḥba. Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in both the online madrasa under study and its onsite counterpart in Karachi, this thesis posits that online-ṣuḥba misses out on “real” ṣuḥba which is firmly tied to the aura of physical settings that propel students towards pious deeds. It uses in-depth interviews of students from diverse backgrounds to argue that the online students who have been exposed to ṣuḥba in the physical madrasa environment are more conscious of the absence of presence and the lack of “real” ṣuḥba in the online environment. Self-discipline becomes the only means by which they can prevent their excessive engagement with technology from paralyzing their spiritual selves. However, online students who rely solely on the online system for companionship have developed strategies to overcome the pitfalls of the online system’s lack of corporeal presence. Communicating personal experience, stories about struggles and accomplishment, about family and faith, about the ordinary and transcendent via virtual fora and video conferencing become in themselves celebrated acts of piety, serving as a vital means for the edification and unification of the student body. Therefore, the online pedagogical system successfully manages to incorporate the didactic aims of storytelling as a method to retain some aspect of ṣuḥba. Finally, this ethnographic study also provides insight into how this new concept of online-ṣuḥba weaves a strong web of interconnectedness between women across the world, transforming them into a closely-knit community of believers who aim to uplift and maintain their spirituality.

Women’s Body, Sexual Freedom and Society in Traditional and Secular Discourses

Asma Majeed
Kinnaird College

The murder of Qandeel Baloch proved a catalyst for ongoing media debates about gender issues, women’s sexual freedom, rights, status, roles and behavior. Electronic media portrayed Qandeel as a modern-day feminist icon whereas print media made her a controversial character and analyzed Pakistani society through religious, legal and normative perspectives. Newly emerged online Urdu websites contested this issue in quite different terms. It neither demanded legislation nor social change. This paper analyzed the discourses of traditional ( and secular ( Urdu websites and unraveled their respective ideologies about women’s body, sexual freedom and social values. Data set comprised of 19 articles (12 from and 7 from from July 15, 2016 to October 30, 2016. Two dominant discourses in both media websites, market discourse and moral discourse was identified.Market discourse (re/de)constructed women’s body as commodity and their sexuality as services while the moral discourses in both websites converged on the primacy of social norms and values. Sexual freedom and body exposure of women were considered vulgar, immodest and against the values of the society.

Gender and Development

Can Education Close the Gender Gap in Equality?

Rania Sohail
Georgetown University

Studying gender inequality and gender gap in access to education is crucial for advancing any discussion on development and growth since estranging half the world’s population only helps in slowing down the progress. There is significant research on this subject matter, and most of it addresses the disparity in women’s labor participation rates by linking it to the unequal access to education and opportunities present for them. However, there has been little investigation into the effect of education on female leadership/managerial positions in developing countries and is particularly under-recognized and under-researched in Pakistan. The common perception surrounding education and its effect on the probability of future success is almost always positive. While this may be a fair assumption for many cases, one cannot ignore that the outcome can differ considerably as a culturally rich developing country and gender comes into the picture. Therefore, this paper aims to contribute to the existing literature on gender inequality, and women in management positions by testing for female managers on education using firm level data from the World Bank enterprise survey of Pakistan 2013. I use Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) method and logit and probit regressions to show that despite having a positive correlation, the effect of greater female education on the number of female managers is rather limited. I further control for a number of important organizational and institutional level factors and use industry and regional fixed effects to test for robustness and discover that the impact of education alone, continues to have a meek impact on the number of female managers in the country. I then show positive significant correlation between female management and firm productivity to highlight that female management should be a desired outcome. The paper thus, highlights that cultural and social factors have a huge stronghold on female success and career progression in Pakistan, whereby, increasing female education alone isn’t enough and needs to be accompanied by other favorable socio-political factors as having more female managers benefits the economy, development and welfare of the society.

Lady Health Workers

Nawal Zahra & Maryam Mansoor
Lahore University of Management Sciences

This research aims to explore the experiences of the lady health workers themselves with regards to their interactions with the government, their dealings with the members of the community, their experience of going door-to-door as a part of their job and their relations with their family particularly about their control over their salaries, and whether they face difficulties due to the double burden. Our research would particularly focus on the obstacles and problems the lady health workers face that has led to a spate of strikes all over Punjab. Lady Health Workers are delegated with the responsibilities of providing contraceptives to couples in the age groups 18-49 years in the community, referring women wanting IUDs to healthcare professionals, coordinating with traditional birth attendants to ensure the wellbeing of the mother and the child before, during and after birth.

We conducted in-depth interviews with three lady health workers, through snowball sampling, to get an insight into their experiences. We also interviewed women of four households to gauge what impact the Lady Health Workers’ Programme had on their daily lives. The interviews with the women in the households of the neighborhoods that the Lady Health Workers visited also helped shed light on their relationships with, and their perception towards the Lady Health Workers. Our research also included participant observation in which we accompanied and assisted one of the Lady Health Workers as she went door to door during a polio drive. The women spending days at the site of the protests meant that these women were interacting with public spaces outside their community more than they would do in their daily lives. Hence, despite the protests beginning as a part of a workers’ movement, the Lady Health Workers have managed to assert greater agency and mobility as women. They perform emotional labour and they also perform the double burden of housework and paid labour. The terrible working conditions lead to further problems e.g. they are often not paid their salaries on time. The lady health workers had managed to negotiate a considerable space for themselves within the state-led development project they were a part of and within their community but it has not led to any radical changes within the household.

Young Women’s Self Perception: the impact of feminine hygiene and menstruation

Farah Basit
Lahore University of Management Sciences

Menstruation or period is the biological process when normal vaginal bleeding occurs as part of a woman’s monthly cycle, and sheds the lining of the uterus. It marks the onset of puberty and prepares the body for pregnancy. Despite its significance in the lives of women and the vital need to address the struggles accompanying it, the subject has remained shrouded in grotesque and unfounded myths. This project will focus on the impact of feminine hygiene and menstruation on young girls and their education, and their overall outlook towards life and themselves. A comparison will also be made across three sets of schools: public schools, low cost private schools, and high-cost private schools, in order to access how social class, and capital plays a role in the impact. The purpose of this study is to understand the experiences of young girls with feminine hygiene and menstruation, and thus, how the facilities provided, their socialization, lack of education on the subject, and societal norms and values affect their lives and thinking. The study aims to find the obstacles that these girls face that may limit and police their mobility and participation in the society, which discourages or adversely affects their education and life opportunities Moreover, the research looks at factors subliminal to the Pakistani culture for instance family values, honor, shame, taboos, myths, urban development and how these shape the experiences of females. This is a qualitative research study and judgment and snowball sampling has been used. I visited public, low-cost private and high-cost private schools. Sample includes students from grade 9 and 10. A pilot study had already been conducted. Focus group discussions and in-depth interviews were conducted with the students, teachers, school nurses and principals of these schools.  Lastly, a few mothers were also interviewed in order to study what impact the primary socialization, family environment and beliefs regarding the female body and menstruation have. Participant observation was also used with regards to school facilities.

Women’s Participation in Local Government

Mahnoor Ashraf, Zainab Raza, Kaynat Rauf & Hibah Sheikh
Lahore University of Management Sciences

This research paper seeks to explore the question of political participation through a gendered perspective. We will be restricting the scope of this project to the local government level. Under the 18th amendment of 2010, local government was devolved to be a matter of provincial concern. Since then each province had developed its own set of laws and systems outlining local government operations. This project will examine the participation of women in the local government system in Lahore. Punjab has a policy for reserving seats for women (and other groups including religious minorities, rural farmers, youth members, technocrats etc.) at all levels of the local government. These seats are indirectly elected, although of course all candidates qualifying for consideration for reserved seats can run for general seats as well.

The primary research analyzes the experiences of female councilors on reserved seats in the Union Councils and District Council of Lahore (although a small minority of respondents sat on general seats). The paper is mainly concerned with identifying the factors and mechanisms that shape the entry and subsequent treatment and activity of women within local government structures. Some themes that have been identified and explored, include the barriers of entry that female councilors face; the impact of family dynamics and the impact of social, cultural, and economic factors on shaping the experiences of women in local government; perceptions of female councilors by other actors, how these perceptions are managed and how this process shapes the role played by women in local government bodies.  

Women, Work and Empowerment

Conflicting Roles of Women with the Rise of Modern Organization in Pakistan

Bareha Abbas
Lahore University of Management Sciences

True equality means holding everyone accountable in the same way regardless of their race, faith, ethnicity or gender. This doesn't however seem to be the case in the supremely patriarchal society of Pakistan. Ever since the introduction of modern industry and organization in Pakistan and the introduction of women into the workforce, women have faced conflicting role demands both from work and in the domestic sphere. My intended research project is to identify the conflicting role demands of women with the rise in modern organization in Pakistan and the extent to which they affect women on a daily basis. The workplace requires women to take initiative and be confident and in-charge of their work. While at the same time, our predominantly Muslim society has the limitations of staying within the bounds of the 'chaar diwari' and maintaining the 'honor' of the men of the family. The data collection method will primarily be qualitative, in that, I will be interviewing nine working women. For the sake of diversity, these women will be from three economic strata namely: lower, middle, and the upper class. For the purpose of this research, the salary cut off for the lower class will be from 4000 PKR to 20,000 PKR per month, while the women earning between 20,000 to under 100,000 PKR per month. The upper-class women will in turn be defined as those earning above 100,000 PKR per month. This distinction will help us understand the different expectations and hurdles that working women face on a daily basis. The aim of this research is to begin to explain how society has unrealistic expectations from women and how it is unfair on women and places an unnecessary burden on them to uphold responsibilities in so many arenas.

Her ‘Agency’, their Hegemony: the Case of Women Entrepreneurs

Bushra Ghaniwala 
Institute of Business Administration

The buzzword ‘empowerment’, though vague in its intent, is ubiquitous in the development sector, especially since the 1970s. In this paper, I study one program geared towards ‘empowerment’ by training women as entrepreneurs. Emerging through a grant provided by a Pakistani NGO and funded by USAID, the program aimed to impart essential entrepreneurial skills and market values over 28 classes conducted at a leading business school in Karachi in 2016. It targeted women living in ostensibly marginalized neighborhoods in Karachi who had a special skill (such as stitching, crafts and cooking) that they could employ to run a business. This form of poverty alleviation fits neatly into the discursive terrain of neoliberalism1 and is anchored in the notion of self-help. I investigate how the program defined empowerment, bearing in mind the global trends of such initiatives, and how the program accommodated local discourses of piety and ideal womanhood. I also explore the extent to which the program allowed for financial stability and the supposedly concomitant social empowerment. In order to answer these questions, I interviewed the grant-making local NGO, the business school representatives who designed and conducted the program, and the attendees. Interviews revealed that while the NGO and business school agreed that empowerment would emerge as a result of enhanced entrepreneurial skills, they differed on the notion of gender equitability. Consequently, the emergent program defined ideal womanhood as economically self-sufficient but also pious and feminized. It reinforced women’s role within the household and deemed their entrepreneurial activities appropriate out of necessity. Interviews with the women who attended the program also revealed their understanding of womanhood and how this has directed the way they negotiate the private sphere and public spaces as female entrepreneurs. The study therefore reveals the gendered nature of this empowerment initiative and how it reinforced local notions of womanhood, while staying in line with the foreign development agency’s neoliberal discourse. When an organization such as USAID takes up the responsibility of producing productive female entrepreneurs, it is in fact managing poverty in ways that grant capitalism a human-face and consequent legitimacy.

A Comparative Study Of Rural And Urban Working Women And Their Role In Household Decision Making

Maryana Aslam
Quaid i Azam University

Islamabad The study is part of my M.Sc. degree in Gender Studies. As a result of this study I will be able to have an insight of the problems and issues faced by working married women in decision making process within the family. The importance and impact of women participation in decision making will also be discussed in this study. The term decision making refers to the process of deciding about something important, especially in a group of people or in an organization. This dissertation examines which married working women are more empowered in decision making of the household and to identify Influence of women’s decision at household level in rural and urban areas of Gilgit-Baltistan. It also tries to measure impact and the degree of acceptance of their decisions. The term ‘working women’ refers to those women who work outside of their homes to earn money to support their families. To carry out this study, I used feminist research methodology because it is more concerned with getting knowledge that is often hidden or disregarded. I have conducted 20 in-depth interviews from married working women through qualitative research. Purposive and snowball sampling technique was used to select respondents from both rural and urban areas.

The key findings of the research showed that ‘majority of working women are dependent on their spouse in household decision making. Education is one of the main factors which influences their decision-making ability. However, living in a patriarchal society, married working women face multiple socio-economic and cultural barriers in participating in decision making process. The results revealed that urban women are more involved in decision making because of their access to better opportunities of higher education which ultimately leads to better job opportunities and financial independence. They enjoy the liberty and opportunity to contribute in decision making process. Furthermore, nuclear family women seem to have more prospects of taking decisions in both rural and urban areas.

Disability and Barriers to Empowerment


Disability is the loss or limitation of opportunities to participate in the society by motor activity on an equal level with others due to social and environmental barriers. About 650 million people in the world or 10 per cent of the world’s population live with disabilities (WHO). Similarly 82 percent of disabled people are living below the poverty line in developing countries (UN). Even the person with disabilities were not included in the Millennium Declaration and absent from the millennium development goals (MDGs). They are women and men, boys and girls, with a range of physical, intellectual or social injury, which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full participation in society on an equal basis with others. Empowerment is process in which everyone can become a whole being without the discrimination of gender and use ones full energy and abilities for a more productive human society (Akhter and Batliwala 1994). Distinctively in Pakistan, the issue of disability has remained neglected from the aspects of administrative, financial and legal basis. The objectives of the study were 1. To find the two-fold discrimination: as women and as persons with disabilities toward empowerment.2. To identify various barriers faced by disabled women toward empowerment. A qualitative research strategy was used in which 30 in-depth interviews were conducted from the participants from the plate form of two NGOs STEP (Special Talent Exchange Program Organisation) and UMEED E Noor working for the welfare and empowerment of disable persons in Islamabad.  The results of the study shows that the disabled women are the victims of two-fold discrimination. They are discriminated as women and as persons with disabilities.The study reveals broadly the two-fold discrimination, opportunities obstacles, acceptance by the family and society, mobility transportation and structure of infrastructure as barriers toward their empowerment in the spectrum of socio-cultural, legal and institutional barriers.

Gender, Family and the Nation

Forming Families, Forming Nations

Muhammad Khurram
Institute of Business Administration

The modern nation-states have played an active role in the organization of families for decades, for example China’s infamous One Child policy, as it provides them a pathway for establishing the normative social structures by legitimizing certain forms of family and delegitimizing others. Therefore, I will be looking at how the discourse around marriage was formed after the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan. As many post-colonial historians, like Chatterjee and Veena Das, point out the sites upon which masculine power dynamics were played out were in fact the women’s bodies. Therefore, the starting point of my enquiry will be the Inter-Dominion treaty of 6th December 1947, for it was among one of the first treaties to be signed by both India and Pakistan post-partition in which they agreed to return each country’s women to their “proper place”. As such the inter-dominion treaty was enacted as a measure to mend the fractured masculinities of both States rather than any actual concern for the women. In fact, both States were interested in controlling the women’s reproductive abilities, more specifically; their ability to reproduce a legitimate family. Hence, I posit that the States are a concrete manifestation of the hetero-patriarchal order. In short, my paper will argue how the partition was a formative moment for both States in how they looked at the legitimacy of certain families and, by extension, the illegitimacy of others; and how the States then subsequently set up Institutions that were reflective of their ideology.  My research lens will adopt a post-colonial interpretation and as for my literature, I will use Urvashi Butalia’s Other Side of Silence, Veena Das’s The Figure of the Abducted Woman: The Citizen as Sexed and Partha Chatterjee’s The Nation and its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories as my primary sources along with records of the Indian parliament and Ayesha Jalal’s historiographical work as my secondary sources.

Brothers in a Patriarchal Society

Samra Hafeez and Tabinda Javed 
Fatima Jinnah College for Women

The present study discusses that how brothers play their role in life of sisters in society where boys are given highly preference as compared to sisters that’s why boys are so much dominant upon their sisters whether it is access to education or it is related to get education in a good institution. The objectives of the study are to search out the interpersonal relation, communication gap, contribution, effects of socialization, responsibility and satisfaction level between brothers and sisters. A qualitative research method of Phenomenological Analysis was used. Data was collected through in-depth structured interviews from 15 participants of 21–25 years of age from Govt. Fatima Jinnah College for Women Chuna Mandi, Lahore Gender Studies Department. The relation of siblings is one of the greatest relations of all others in the world which cannot be forgotten. This beautiful relation is a mixture of many factors in which sisters well known of the attitude of their brothers whether it is negative or positive especially towards them. If there is a little age gap in brothers and sisters then it is found that the factor of competition arises more there. The factor of interference seen more when brother is elder then he interrupts at each and every matter of his sister’s life. Without conflicts and petty disputes this charming bond is worthless and meaningless. Communication gap is the major factor of sibling relationship which shows that how much their bonding is stronger. Socialization of siblings also depict a great affect upon their life in which factor of mobility and career influence too much on life of girls because restriction on mobility can  create a great hurdle for girls in making their career of life as it is also related with technical and vocational education. It is suggested that those brothers who have conservative thinking should change their thinking level and also given the right to their sisters to express their feelings and they can also share their opinions. Brothers should control their anger and they should listen others patiently and shouldn’t become aggressive hurriedly they also spend time with family members and with sisters also. Brothers should be more responsible, caring and supporting.

Pakistani Women with Expatriate Husbands: Issues in the Upbringing of Children

Komal Mateen
University of Management and Technology

This study explores the difficulties faced by women in upbringing of children while their husbands live abroad. Migration has started many years ago in different countries, but the issue of taking a family along remains the same, a major failure (Mohn, 2008). People migrate for their better economic position in society but this have an effect on their family and children and this step may affect the education of their children. (Farooq & Javed, 2009). The objectives of this study are to identify problems that women with expat husbands have regarding their children’s education, health care, recreational activities and personal growth, to explore difficulties faced by women with expat husbands in joint family and to explore perceptions that women face while living away from their husbands. The nature of this research is qualitative. The ontological approach of this study is interpretivism and the epistemological approach is social constructivism. Research tool is In-depth Interviews and interview guide comprising of semi structured and open ended questions were prepared for this research. The interviews were recorded. Recordings were transcribed and themes were made. For this purpose thematic analysis is used. Sampling technique used in this research is purposive sampling and 6 women are taken from 3 of 9 Towns in Lahore. Sample includes women who were married for 12 or more years and live in a joint family.

Insecurity and Precarious Space

Why We Don’t Loiter: Women in Public Spaces

Shafaq Javaid
Forman Christian College

The aim of this research was to see if the women of Lahore, over the age of 18, used coping mechanisms to prevent being harassed in public spaces. It was hypothesized that the stronger the fear of being harassed in public spaces, the more women would use coping mechanisms to go out into public spaces. The theoretical framework used for this research was the Protection Motivation Theory by Hank Boer and Erwin Seydel. (1996) The data for this research was collected in Ichraa Bazar, Liberty Market, Jilani Park, and two Metro Stations (Ichraa Metro Station and Qurtaba Chowk Metro Station). Respondents were selected based on the last digit of their cell-phone number, which were either 4 or 8. Two instruments were used for data collection. One was a modified Fear of Victimization Scale which measured the fear of harassment, and the other was a modified Coping Mechanisms Scale. Since the score obtained on both the scales was continuous, using Pearson’s Correlation and Simple Linear Regression, it was found that the relationship between the independent (fear of harassment) and the dependent variable (coping mechanisms) was positive but quite weak. In analysis of the sample, it was found that younger women (18-30) reported a higher fear of harassment than older women (31 and above). Regardless of age, almost every woman who participated in the study used coping mechanisms. It was also found that being accompanied by children in public spaces did not decrease the chances of women being harassed.

Becoming Visible: Iranian Women After the Islamic Revolution

Omema Akhtar
Habib University

It’s been more than 30 years since the triumph of the Iranian revolution, yet there remain various ambiguities about the way Iran and its legal structures deal with the rights and status of the Iranian women. This paper will compare the condition of Iranian women in the pre-revolutionary era and the post-revolutionary era period. My essay will be divided into three sections where laws, political rights, education, social and economic perspectives will be the factors in determining the current circumstance of women in Iran in both of the two eras. Hence, the first section of the paper, discusses the nature of the policies that were introduced in Shah’s regime (pre-revolutionary era). The second section will provide a detailed discussion of the possibilities that led women to be a part of the revolution and the self-agency that women acquired amid the revolution. A significant portion of the third section discusses the conditions of women in post-revolutionary era. The objective of this analysis is to investigate, which era, was suitable in regard to increase in women rights and status. In general, the question could be proposed as “In contrast to the past, has the lives of the Iranian women improved after the Islamic revolution or not?” The sources for this paper includes references from published papers and the interviews conducted by Esfandiari and Mary Elaine in their research on women in post-revolutionary Iran. The other important sources used in this research are: The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Treaty of Women’s Rights and Responsibilities in the Islamic Republic of Iran and Comprehensive periodic reports of the Presidential Office of the Islamic Republic.

Issues of Social Reintegration of Female Prisoners in Lahore

Warda Afzal
University of Management and Technology

Social reintegration of prisoners is a global issue. In case of female prisoners their process of reintegration in society become more complicated. The purpose of this research is to investigate the “Issues of social reintegration of female prisoners in Lahore. Due to Intersectionality of gender with criminal record of women makes their life more vulnerable; as they fight with the several barriers such as complications in getting jobs, benefits, services that help her in reintegrating efforts, reestablishing relationships with family, children, and society, obtaining housing. The objectives of this research are to explore what problems they face in their social interactions, how family and other kinship relations deal with them, and what difficulties they are facing in getting jobs. This research is Qualitative research. Case study method is used for this research with interpretive ontological and social constructivist epistemological stance. To find the problems women faced Marginalization theory is used, which describe the marginalized character of women in society with low salaries and lack of education. Data is collected through the In-depth interview technique; interviews are first digitally recorded. Later on it transcribed to make verbatim transcript. Sample size for this research is 4 to 5 women offenders who were released from incarceration and their age range will be from 20 years to 50 years, and it is collected from “Socio-Economic & Rehabilation Center (SERC) for women and juvenile prisoners” and Central Jail, Lahore. Ethical issues are also considered for the privacy and respect of participants, their real names are hidden, and pseudo names are used, confidentiality of their given data is only used for research purposes. Data is collected from Lahore, Pakistan.

Women's Sexuality and Access to Mosques

Shaheera Pesnani
Habib University

Historically, mosques have served as public spaces intended for communal worship. Not only have they played a significant role in creating a cohesive community but have also operated as symbols of belonging and identity for the Muslim community. However, men and women do not experience accessibility to and participation in mosques equally. It remains a “contested” space that reflects the cultural and societal values of the communities in which they are built. It has been observed that in Pakistan fewer women frequent to a mosque to offer their prayers. Female presence in a mosque is seen as sexually enticing, which by extension restricts their access and excludes them from the community-building process. This paper aims to explore the perceptions of young university-going women on sexuality in relation to their access to mosque. An exploratory qualitative study was undertaken using a feminist lens and employing Asra Nomani’s rights-based approach in order to analyze the diverse perceptions of young women and identify the role sexuality plays in hindering their access to mosque, as well as ascertain whether the participants consider their participation in the mosque as a fundamental religious and human right. Through individual interviews and secondary research, the paper delves into the themes of sexuality, piety, modernity, and culture of fear in order to determine how a sacred space such as a mosque can be used as tool for the marginalization of certain genders.

Impact of Facebook Usage on Female University Students of Pakistan

Noor ul ain Nasir
University of Central Punjab

This research study attempts to identify and understand the impact of freedom of expression exercised on social media, specifically Facebook and its impact on university female students living in Pakistan. In Pakistani society honor and dignity is truly considered precious. Some people tend to misuse their freedom by interfering in other person’s personal life and try to defame and frighten them in multiple ways. Cyber bullying, sexual harassment that prevails online, involves many different activities, for example sexting, stalking, blackmailing, abusive and immoral conversation, setting up fake identities and forceful friendships etc. that has a serious influence on female students.  Spiral of silence and feminist theories will be used. Qualitative research methodology will be employed. In-depth interviews will be conducted from 20 female university students who are Facebook users. The findings might suggest that Pakistani women are often easy victims of such crimes; often there suffering goes unreported. They tend to hide it from society in order to guard their reputation.  It could be suggested that government should take serious steps in this regard and should ensure strict punishments for such criminals in order to ensure security for women.

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