“A woman is the biggest enemy of a woman”, is a rather popular claim that is made by men and women alike in serious and casual conversations. I not only find it false but to an extent, absurd. If I were to read too much between the lines, I would say it is a conspiracy to divide and rule by the ruling powers of patriarchy.
For me my biggest allies, confidants, cheerleaders and friends have been women in shape of relatives, mentors, colleagues and friends. That is not to say men have not played a role in shaping who I am today- they have and I am grateful to them.
The matter of the fact is that we find people at workplaces, family gatherings, social get-togethers and other places who are sincere, helping, friendly & encouraging and we also find people who are deceiving, manipulative and leg pullers. These people can belong to any gender and it is wrong to stereotype and popularize claims like ‘woman against a woman’. Because if anything economic progression, even more true in the context of a country like Pakistan, would only transpire when men and women both work together. It is not a hidden fact that there is a massive gap in that ratio right now and it can only be achieved if an environment of inclusion is created where sometimes special arrangements are necessary; having an open mind and heart towards making such efforts successful is what can lead to a progressive society.
So I would urge my friends to:
- Embrace diversity, do not resist it.
- If you are a (privileged) male in Pakistan, please do not assume you know everything pertaining to female or minority challenges. And resist the temptation to jump to judgements and solutions. Follow the lead of inclusive (male) leaders to be a role model and a cheer leader for inclusion.
- Support your colleagues that belong to a minority group.
- Making a sexist comment in a humorous conversation does not take away the negative connotation of that comment. Please refrain from such conversations.
- Women, especially privileged women, be an even stronger ally of women and other genders. More voices at the table make them louder.