I write about silence that plays on my mother’s lips before forming shy and afraid words or silence that crept into creases on my grandmother’s skin and made home there; I write about a silence when that woman stole a glance at me and skin around her eyes gathered in layers of fear of time and people and of surroundings; I write about silence that is not rendered the right space on bodies of its bearers, while it keep looking for other names to adjust around, a silence that digs deeper than their skins and reaches the third dimension of being, that reaches the soul and looks upon us through eager eyes.
And then I realized that Silence when it is associated with women, is not mere silence, it becomes a noise, a tool for change, a symbol of their strength sometimes. Silence is their way of protesting against the fact when they are when they are taken for granted, or when they are not seen for who they are. That is their way of putting forward vital questions like how long can you go without us?
And then there is another set of women, and what looks like a revolution in their acts to others around them, is only common sense. These women in their own simple acts are ambassadors for change, working for an unpromising future but future shall arrive one day. They are often talked about and called crazy for it is the fashion to talk about them. But here in this issue, they are talking about themselves, how they are playing their role in bringing the change, as future women or for future women.
Faiza Yousaf– NED graduate and post graduate, runs a consultant company helping small businesses (especially Women), executive member of OPEN Pakistan, volunteers for INJAZ Pakistan, and is recently working on a USAID-funded ‘gender equity program’ with Aurat Foundation and IBA. She teaches technology at IU and FAST-NUCES and loves to read and rant on twitter (@FaizaYousuf).
“I run WomenInTechPK, it’s a community for women who are directly or indirectly related to the local technology industry. It’s a Women only group so that women can talk freely about their issues, seek advice and opportunities, find mentors and form collaborations with each other. I have spent seven years in the tech industry and I have seen and experienced all kinds of issues that are very gender specific. Women usually experience a more hostile working environment and this hostility makes them leave the Tech industry as soon as they get a chance. The ratio of women leaving their careers in tech is very high worldwide and in Pakistan, the situation isn’t great either. My goal is to reach out and include women from all over the country so that we can start an open dialogue about diversification in the workplace and the role of women in Technology Leadership. This will create awareness which in turn can make employers/industry leaders change policies and help their organizations in nourishing a more diversified and inclusive culture.”
Maryam U. Malick– A photographer mommy with a heart of a gypsy. Loves to travel, blog and rant about the daily life struggles of a stay at home/ part time working mom. So if you’re interested to see what she do and what she writes Check her links below
“Well being a stay at home mom of a toddler and working part time as a photographer and blogger, usually, people don’t take your field so seriously or since you work from home they think it’s all la la land for me or for the lot like us. Wallah, it isn’t this easy. No house help whatsoever, demanding work type and equally demanding husband and super clingy baby as he/she is too attached to you as that’s all she interacts with makes all of it really tough.
When I get really worked up, I rant so much on the blog and write everything that’s bothering me. And I love it when I get the overwhelming response from other moms like me that you spoke our heart. We can relate to you and we found a part of us in your piece and you gave us the courage to talk about such personal stuff and gain back our courage. It just makes my day/week (and at times the whole month haha) I don’t think we women or mothers specifically have to do NASA type or scientific type stuff to stand tall among the crowd or to show the empowerment. We are women! That’s enough reason to celebrate and be proud of. No man can have their mind juggle between so many thoughts and emotions and physical and mental roller coaster like we do. We made a little human, that’s our super power and it makes us all super hero.”
Sidra Amin– She is a 22-year-old Mechatronics Undergrad, and serving as Overseer Young Women Writers’ forum, Editor-in-chief of Self-publishing wing at Daastan, Creative writer at Blimp. She loves poetry and some of her work has been published magazines and e-zines across the world and has been featured in PechaKucha’s events in Germany. She runs a book club known as Peshawar book club and has her own Spoken word organization.
“I am devoted to facilitate writers with publishing opportunities. I have been working closely with women in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa to bring them opportunities where they can express themselves, including but not limited to storytelling, article writing, poetry writing. Most of these women have published themselves in magazines and some even have their books published by Daastan now. My focus is on letting women express everything that goes inside their head, without any fears, so they can get to know each other, empathize with each other, and uplift each other. Words change the world, and I am providing women a platform to change this world into a place where opportunities are available to anyone on the basis of their abilities, regardless of their gender.”
Atiya Abbas– She is a transnational feminist working with Girls at Dhabas, a collective that is working to define public space on their own whims and terms. Since her return from the University of Missouri- Columbia, she has been involved with this collective, arranging events across Karachi and Lahore, protesting harassment on the streets, and setting up small tea stalls to engage with the public. In 2016, Girls at Dhabas was featured on BBC World; went onto setting up a Behenchara (female solidarity) Corner at the Women of the World Festival; organized a bike rally to protest street harassment; and conducted multiple workshops and presentations on gender and public space. She has spoken to teenaged girls and young women at Jinnah University and Dawood Public School under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of State and Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network. Keeping up a dialogue on gender, feminism and public space is of immense importance to her and she continues to encourage dialogue about these initiatives.
“I am playing my part by unlearning everything the patriarchy wants me to be. That means: not seeing women as the enemy but the system that wants to pit us against each other, recognizing when people are acting out of privilege and being aware of my own when approaching others. Most of all, through working with Girls at Dhabas, I want to try and convey to people that there are issues worth fighting and standing up for, even if it is your right to have a cup of tea.”
Irum Zahra– she runs a publishing house named ‘Beyond Sanity Publishing’ and has a poetry collection titled ‘Psychaotic’.
“It is difficult to survive in a world made for men, but I have a strong will and I see myself building a platform that will not only help women with their creative side, but will also enhance the image of Pakistan in the world.
Andleeb Tariq– an Artist with a degree in Clinical Psychology.
“I am trying to tell the world that my degree doesn’t define who I am. I can have a degree in Psychology and still become a full-time Artist. I paint women who are strong and powerful. My paintings give the message of hope to the women around; we as women have the power to make a difference and we can endure much more than we think we can!”
Saba Zain– She is doing Ms in literature in linguistics from Numl and teaches at the city school working as a freelancer with Al Rasub and Indus, Karachi.
“I am trying to break societal taboos by the themes of my short stories which always surround existential crises and negation of free will in our society not only my short stories but by my wall too. And yes I am willing to endure any sort of criticism for that.”