Women are breaking gender stereotypes every day despite living in a patriarchal society.
Regardless of the slight progress we have made in terms of human rights and equality, there are certain loopholes that still haunt us. Being a widow is not a stigma in religion nor under the law. Yet many are shunned from society whereas, quite a handful of them are deprived of rights to remarry and inherit property.
There are several regional and class disparities in the status of women in Pakistan.
Even though women have made a remarkable appearance on the economic and political scene in the last two or three decades, widowhood still remains a condition of extreme distress for women in Pakistan. When a woman is widowed, society believes that the protective chadar from her head has been removed. She automatically goes in the status of dependence.
Such is the story of 56-year-old Asia, who was widowed at the young age of 21.
The loss of a loved one is always painful but losing a husband at such a young age is excruciating.
Such a woman faces discrimination and shame along with emotional abuse. Not to forget the financial and economic challenges that follow. Asia was married when she was just 15-years-old. Before she could fully enjoy marital bliss, her husband died in a car accident six years later.
She was widowed and left with two toddlers to take care of with little to no means of sustenance.
Fighting against all odds and breaking gender stereotypes, she decided to buy a minibus and earn a living as a driver – something that did not go down well in her community.
Working in a male-dominated profession comes with its own problems. From wicked and perverted stares of men to unnecessary harassment by transportation officials, Asia and women like her have faced it all.
But defying all obstacles, she now drives a vehicle transporting girls to schools.
She is a blessing for parents who want a female to drive their daughters to schools and colleges.
After doing this for 35 years, Asia hopes her story inspires others who have met the same fate.
She is also supported by Kashf Foundation, a non-profit, microfinance and wealth management organization. Roshaneh Zafar, a Pakistani development activist, said that Asia has been a client for more than eight years.
Asia has been supported financially and through empowerment activities.
“When I met her last year she told me that once her daughter graduates from college she wants her to work for an organization like Kashf,” added Ms. Zafar.
Here is Asia’s entire story:
How a bus saved this widow's life.
Gepostet von BBC World Service am Donnerstag, 21. Juni 2018
Poor women, who do not possess land and productive assets, live out the rest of their lives on the fringes of existence.
Those who do possess assets are exploited by the predominant patriarchy. They are also the victims of social and cultural prejudice and abuse. The concern for widows falls within the context of concerns about women in general. Society, rather than supporting these women, ostracizes them, thus, aggravating their wounds even more.
It is important to recognize these widows as equal members of the society by empowering them so that they can lead normal lives. What do you think about this phenomenal woman? Let us know in the comments.
Cover image via BBC