Sound of the phrase, “Women are not allowed to work” was so unfamiliar until I reached university. I grew up seeing progressive working women like my mother and others in the society.  I am from a small town in Kashmir called Rawalakot, situated in the northern region of Pakistan. This area is more known for its beauty and less for the exceptional women.  According to the annual socioeconomic report of Kashmir, Azad Jammu & Kashmir at a Glance 2017, the female employment rate in Kashmir is 70% which is way higher than most regions of Pakistan. It might sound extremely strange and outlandish to some people but fortunately most women in Rawalakot work and earn a decent living.

Growing up, I used to idealize women in urban centers of Pakistan to be the role models, more reformist and the male counterparts in those societies to be highly supportive.  WAIT WHAT!! This is not true?  That was my sentiment when I moved to a big city.   Employment of an educated and skilled woman is a huge challenge in urban cities unfortunately not because of lack of talent or job market but lack of recognition of them as the productive citizen of a nation.    The ultimate achievement of the woman’s life is to get married and settle down and most talented, skillful and capable women in their twenties are progressing towards that goal. It is not the matter of choice, unfortunately, but a compulsion by society. This utmost impulsion of getting the daughter married exists more in the social elites than other segments of the society.  (Not demeaning the importance of marriage, but certainly rejecting it to be the biggest achievement of one’s life).

On the contrary, women I grew up with were succeeding in their education and were highly focused on achieving the bigger career goal.  These women are outstanding and have either established their own businesses or ended up in top professions such as doctors, engineers, artist, top government official and managers in best cooperate institutes.  Some of them are not just married but have lived away from families for work. They have a progressive mind with less fear and more commitment.  It will be unfair to say that they did not face any challenge, but despite these challenges and lack of resources they progressed better than male members of the society. At the outset of the whole unannounced uprising, these women were stigmatized and stereotyped but they have managed to create a rhythm which is unparalleled, fanciful for many and has the multi-generational impact. The last two generation of women in this town have set new standards for the society and people have developed tolerability towards it. This acceptability will certainly reach new and broader levels when more women are breaking these barriers without leaving behind the male counterparts in their society.

The above-revealed dynamics makes me wonder whether education and exposure are enough to be a progressive person. I believe a reformist mindset is far more important than any of the other factors for success and what contributes most to this mindset is wisdom and vision.  We often criticize our societies more than they deserve but it is highly essential to recognize, reflect and comprehend these transformative elements that can help our societies to grow.