Pakistani Women Say Their Feminism is Different, But Not Worse

Pakistani women

Ever since I had the opportunity to visit Pakistan, I’ve been fascinated with what women there have had to say about the topic of feminism and their views on it versus those of us in the Western world.

While I was there, a teacher at the International Islamic University in Islamabad, named Rubia Akram, brought me to the Fatima Jinnah Women University in Rawalpindi, where I was able to interview some women about feminism in their country:


After Rubia saw this video I made from the interviews she had this to say:

“This short clip about The Fatima Jinnah Women University can play a pivotal role in dismantling the stereotypical image of Pakistani women in the West. Ms. Lee is doing a very important work of highlighting heterogeneity of Pakistani women which is otherwise suppressed by the corporate run global media.

“Her choice of [visiting] Fatima Jinnah Women University for this documentary is significant in many ways — the name of the university commemorates Pakistani national legend Dr. Fatima Jinnah who fought the war of independence during the pre- and post-independence period in 1947 along with male freedom fighters. She is a symbol of bravery and courage for women of Pakistan. Furthermore, the university is exclusively for women where women are learning to work in different fields of knowledge. This university is one of many examples which show that Pakistani women are not always the victims; many of them are strong enough to take decisions of their lives by themselves.

“I agree with Maria binte Safi that Pakistani women have become conscious of their rights now and they are taking steps to protect their rights. They are not only becoming bold and confident by the university education but now they are also well informed. I would like to add here that Pakistan women owe a lot to Western feminism for their emancipatory efforts, as well as the space which they have been able to create for themselves in the society. Though as Pakistani women our social contexts are different from women of other countries, still we all share experience of marginalization and social oppression” – Rubia Akram

Jennifer Lee is a filmmaker who lives in Los Angeles. She has spent many years working on Hollywood films and used her free time (when she had it!) making her own films. Her latest film, “Feminist: Stories from Women’s Liberation” is being distributed nationally and more public screenings are upcoming!. Jennifer was recently named Global Ambassador for the Global Media Monitoring Project.

Image via iStockphoto/Jeremy Richards

  • Thia

    Interesting! I guess feminism is at different stages in different cultures but I’m glad to see these women working so hard in their country. Very inspiring!

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