Tuesday, June 29, 2010

From business to home- women, religion and customs

Few days before, when in evening time, I was doing some shopping, I saw a girl standing at the front desk. This made me think of those thousands of girls and women who have no freedom of choice and decision to earn for their own and for their families. All the time, I remained in the shop and after I was on my way to home, I kept on thinking what actually freedom of choice is for such girls, especially living in conservative societies. I also thought about those who really want to work but are either not allowed due to cultural constraint or have no access to income generating opportunities. Unfortunately, our society first thinks that girls and women should not work and then think about why they actually work. And often they don’t care about the word “WHY”.

We rarely think of a girl or woman who leaves her home for 8 hours or more for job, with all the trust and hopes that she brings with her from family and earn because she needs to feed her family. However, this is the scenario where job for a girl is not a choice but a need for survival. We have to think a step ahead of this, where job is not only a need but a freedom of choice. Just like a men can search for job with all freedom, despite of the reason he needs to feed his family or not, the same should be a case for women to have a respectable job of own choice.

Unfortunately, people have made a perception that this is something a hurdle created by religion- Islam. However, the fact is, this is not religion, but self made customs or I will say, male dominance which take the decision from the hands of a woman, even some time when he is not actually suppose to make such boundaries. When I think what wrong perception is being spread among all of us about religion, I really feel sad. Religion is a strong base for shaping our lives in more respectable and dignified manner. By the word “our”, I mean both men and women. Islam never stop a woman or a girl from earning in a respectable manner and mostly the “respectable manner” in Islam demand an environment that we all need to create for a women to do a respectable job of her decision.

This is so amazing to know that the holly prophet, Muhammad (PBUM) married a woman who was a business woman. This example is so inspiring both for men and women. This is very crystal clear that religion has never been an obstacle for women and girls to earn, but this is what our customs that creates such obstacles. The holly prophet used to discuss with his wife Hazrat Khadija in every hard time. There is very famous saying in Islam that seeking knowledge is the duty of every Muslim. By the word “Muslim”, it means very clearly both men and women. A good knowledge, of course, is a strong base for a respectable business and we cannot deny a strong logic behind it.

One of the most powerful aspects of women empowerment begins from home. When a girl is born, Allah says, she brings blessing to you and your family. Religion gives her a status of pride which, unfortunately, societies alter for their so called customs. A girl, when a sister, is source of happiness for her brother, a companion when a wife and a heaven when a mother. The strongest point in my view is not to consider woman or girl a week or dependant member of the society, but a respectable member with full right of freedom in decision making.

Back to 2007, when in a free time, I was having chat with one of my foreign manager. She said that, in her country when women is standing in a line with men in bank or shop, she cannot break a line and will wait for her turn, whatever if lots of men are standing before her. She further talked to me that, in our society, women are mostly allowed to go ahead before men, irrespective of line rules. By this, she meant more respect for women in our society and I was happy hearing this from my manager that she appreciated such respectful acts of men in our country. However, some time I also think that it can be more than a respect only. May be this is a consideration that woman are not week and can wait for their turn. This point also make me realize that whatever be the situation as right or wrong in different cultures and societies, important thing is, not to continue making our own perceptions alone, rather, create an opportunity to consult women on what they really think about it.

If in present situation, we, the men dominate society by many means then, again it comes back to our sense of thinking and realization to do our efforts for creating conducive environment where we all are equal in rights with freedom of choice and dignity. And there is no question about it because, if religion, which we believe upon, gives this right to women, then how come we humans can deny it. Coming back to the thinking of that girl standing at the front desk of shop, I really wish she feels happy that she is able to do her job and earn for her family and this is not only something that make her to work at any cost rather a freedom of choice for herself.

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