I've been asking Pukhtuns on Twitter and Facebook what they think are some of the major obstacles to Pukhtun women's leadership--i.e., why is there a lack of leadership among Pukhtun women? Why are they threatened and, in some cases (re: Farida Afridi, Malalai Kakar), killed? Why is our society (both men AND women) intimidated by a woman's voice, a woman's leadership, a woman's presence? Why do we feel the need to make the woman feel invisible?
I have my
own thoughts on this (peghor (basically, people's talks and taunts, intended solely to offend someone's honor), shame, honor, lack of confidence--I don't think education has much to do with it), which can be accessed via SafeWorldForWomen. But until then, these are some of the responses I've received.
More are still welcomed and appreciated!
1. I ascribe it to lack of
education and in turn restricted exposure, esp. on part of men (not
necessarily men of the family only) and to the way honor is so tied up
My response: Honor - good, I'm glad you
mentioned that. I think it's all entirely because of our ideas of honor,
a rather misogynistic understanding of honor that exploits and harms
women -- and doesn't really help men or the rest of society at all.
Honor. The fear of people's talks and stares. Publicity coming to a
woman and hence peghor ...
2. forget about leadership, i
would be very happy if they are given their basic rights and made equal
to men. History has shown that Pukhtun women can be a lot more if given
My response: True - but I think Pukhtun women leaders have contributed, and continue to contribute, FAR more to improving Pukhtun women's situation than any man ever has. That's why I don't think that being seen as equal, etc. should come first. No one saw our current women leaders as equals--they fought, they struggled, they "rebelled," they resisted, they lost hope at times ... but they persisted, and they ultimately won. Look how far they've come, and look how much they've done for other women.
3. The Pakhtuns men need to be
educated properly and need to rise above their present way of thinking,
in other words achieve enough confidence in themselves and Change their
mindset.. It's all along backward men to be blame.
My response: That's definitely true to a
large extent. But I wish I could believe it was entirely men's fault or
entirely the fault of our lack of education. Oftentimes, women are the
worst enemies of other women (I can speak from personal experience: my
"enemy" is actually this one Pukhtun woman--and she claims to be a
woman's rights champion as well. (Hypocritical, I know. But as the
saying goes, you must be doing nothing important if you've got no
haters.) Among Pukhtun men, they're actually very supportive. Not that I
think of myself as a leader or anything, but just talking about my
writing about women's issues and such.)
4. Khaze da taaweele maaweele na khlassegee no leadership da para warsara wakht nishta lol [Translation: Woman doesn't have time for leadership, since she's always busy gossiping or creating problems and misunderstandings. ("taaweele maaweele" = "he says, she says")]
My response: lol ... that's true for a lot of our women indeed ... but I'm still certain that's not one of our major obstacle :)
5. Because They are still asking men " What are the Problems."
6. it's kinda rare to meet a pukhtanah who is dying2make social change
instead of watching humsafar?maybe it's their own fault?lazy?
7. because of pushtoon MEN :)
My response: You don't think other women or their talks has anything to do with it? :)
7: yeah thats also a point but its also due to huge domination of men in pukhton society.
8. the men in their family claiming 'sharam de'(it's shameful)
10. Cultural Bias and Societal Pressure. Not only Pashtun women but all over the world.
11. education ;the society ; and people 's perception ; taboos etc ..
12. i think certain myths- women r stupid, women r emotional, they r weak, they r only to cook food & produce children etc
13. social pressure, threatened by cutting off support or social boycott.
14. But they are the ones who keep family together that takes more strength & endurance than any man can ever have
15. A very imp point Abt culture is missing, jirga is one of them. because if u r not involved in observing or making decisions u can't b a leader & unfortunately women r not part of Jirga. Jirga is the authority making decisions & historically women r not part of it I think that may be the reason. because if u r not involved in observing or making decisions u can't b a leader & unfortunately women r not part of Jirga
Bushra Gohar, a leading Pukhtun woman politician, has several interviews online about her political involvement as well as Pukhtun women, their problems and obstacles, and women & ANP (Awami National Party, the Pukhtun political party in NW Pakistan). Here is one from 2010. There's one on Viewpoint that she gave me the link to yesterday, but apparently, you've to log in to read it. I was able to view it on my phone but not can't from PC. Here's the link.
And for a list of Pashtun women leadership (under Pashtun leaders in general), please click here. We do have inspiration--we just have to know where to look :)
Thanks to everyone's answers! I hope we'll continue talking about this.