Female Leadership on Campus in Pakistan: Changing Preconceptions

The following story comes from Amna Tariq Shah, a 27-year-old student of English literature and applied linguistics at Peshawar University in Pakistan.  Compare her story to Julia’s about female leadership at American colleges.  What does it say about the role of strong, educated women in each country?

Male dominating society – as they call it. I first came in contact with men when I took admission in the University of Peshawar. Before that the school and the college that I went to were only for girls. So, it was a completely new experience.

We were 50 students in our class; about 50% were boys and other 50% girls. It was my final year class and the class had to elect a class representative (CR). According to the norms and traditions of the department, the CR was supposed to be a boy, who was the head of the entire class while there was a GR, who was supposed to be the girls’ representative (her duties were limited). As far as I know this has always been the case.

However, this time as we sat in our class to discuss with our class teacher, who would be elected, all voices chorused calling out my name. At first astonished, I looked back to confirm, and yes I heard them right. They wanted me to be their CR – something that had never happened in the past. All my impressions of the so-called male chauvinistic society were shaken. From this little incident I learned in life that if we are strong and confident, we can make our way to the top. If we keep holding on to the old rotten ideas then obviously no on would be able to alter our position.

In my country, Pakistan, I see extremes; we have had the first female Muslim Prime Minister (Benazir Bhutto); the President of our Supreme Court bar council is a woman and so is our speaker of the National Assembly; but on the other hand we also have women, who are confined to the four walls of their home by their men. All this dawns upon me one thing – the value of education!

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