chapter  5
14 Pages

The Transformation of the Women's Movement in Pakistan

WithAnita M. Weiss

Women in Pakistan have banded together only recently to emerge as an important political movement. Many stereotypes regarding women's roles and power in Pakistan exist in the west. Gender inequity, while just one more type of inequity confronted by the "have-nots" in Pakistan, is not a major issue within wealthier families. The Zia ul-Haq government implemented an Islamization program in February, 1979 which was to have a strong effect on mobilizing women, virtually forcing them to become social activists in order to defend their fundamental rights. An important break with the past occurred when women themselves organized groups such as the Women's Action Forum, the Pakistan Women Lawyers' Association and the Business and Professional Women's Association in the early 1980s. Perhaps the most important women's group which has facilitated the transformation of the larger women's movement in Pakistan is the Women's Action Forum, or Khawateen Mahaz-e-Amal.