Modern Technology and Women Empowerment in Pakistan

Modern Technology and Women Empowerment in Pakistan

Afshan Syed Mahmood (Allama Iqbal Open University, Pakistan) and Noreen Saif (Qurtuba University of Science and Information Technology, Pakistan)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6939-8.ch009

Abstract

The issue of women rights violations is nothing new. However, the modes of tackling the menace has changed and gained momentum by many degrees. With advances in technology, these modes have assumed the semblance of a technological crusade for the cause of women rights. Pakistan, a patriarchal society to the core, has not been behind others in the use of smart technology for socio-economic safety and empowerment of women. Some of these efforts are directly sponsored by government; others are the initiatives by individuals and companies in private capacity. Though different in form and shape, these measures have a common goal to empower women socio-economically, give them necessary technical training, and/or stand by them when justice is impeded. The current chapter throws light on the spectrum of work being done to use technology as a vehicle to curb incidence of violation of women rights, strengthen women, and help them live honorably.
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Introduction

“Frailty, thy name is woman.” These words of Hamlet’s, Shakespeare’s protagonist, do not simply expose a galled son, they lay bare menfolk’s general stance towards womenfolk. This orthodox attitude has existed since time immemorial. Frailty, fragility, weakness have been associated with woman down the ages, hence the references to her: weaker sex and fairer sex.

Generally considered physically and economically unable to protect themselves, women are subjected to physical, emotional and sexual abuse in and outside home. Bias, exploitation and sexual harassment are every second girl’s experience, and sadly, domestic violence tops the list. This has been the case in every culture and society in complete disregard of social, religious and moral values of people settled in any part of the world, including the Muslim world, as illustrated in the quote below:

Only an honorable man treats women with honor and integrity, and only a vile and dishonorable man humiliates and degrades women- Hadith of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) on women rights

The misogyny is further fed by violence-oriented gory games and movies in which women are portrayed as beauties, too fragile to protect themselves. According to Anna Davtyan-Gevorgyan, women are usually presented in advertising and media as young, slim and with beauty, perfectly in sync with the accepted standards. Such portrayal of women has affected public attitude that treats women as sex objects (Gevorgyan, 2016).

As a matter of fact, women comprise half of the world population (INED, 2017). Therefore, it is very important to educate, skill and provide all necessary safety to them across the globe in order to effectuate global prosperity. It is also equally crucial to develop public awareness about the opportunities women can avail to improve their life standard with an enhanced sense of security. Given these facts, certain tech-savvy individuals and groups have taken it upon themselves as a duty to enhance public sensitivity and sensibility to the issue of women rights and their capacity building. Their efforts center on socio-economic empowerment of women, leading to their all-embracing safety in public and private lives.

The current chapter highlights some of the efforts undertaken by Government, privately owned organizations or individuals to provide Pakistani women socio-economic security. The chapter also features success stories of certain women tech-stalwarts to spotlight the flipside of this generally perceived patriarchal society. Its basic purpose is to develop awareness in public, especially women, about the various ways in which technology is being used to upgrade the status of women nation-wide, protect their rights, educate masses about these rights, and provide women opportunities for capacity building.

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Broadcast-Social Media And Women’S Issues

Sexual assaults, rapes, domestic violence are commonplace occurrences in Pakistan. However, country-wide campaigns to protect the rights of Pakistani women have gathered momentum in recent years. The credit, in the main, goes to social media and broadcast technology that have proved effective tools to spotlight the heinous crimes perpetrated against women of any age or social background. The same has also played a surrogate agent for law enforcers in many such cases and helped bring the criminals to justice. For example, both media played an instrumental role in the murder hunt, involving a seven year old child, Zainab Ansari. Had it not been for the CCTV camera recording of the child walking away with the bearded Imran Ali, her abductor, and serial rapist-cum-murderer would have been impossible to find in a country where overpopulation and incidence of crimes have spiraled like two fierce rivals competing to outdo each other.

The role of social media in this regard was no small either. Being a platform for social networking, Facebook and Twitter together with electronic media catalyzed nation-wide outrage over the issue, pressurizing the concerned authorities to shake off their usual inertia and hunt down the schmuck rapist. Now, the rest, rests upon the judiciary to bring the culprit to justice.

Zainab Ansari is one case in point. Sharifan Bibi’s case is another, which has been followed effectively by the media. Whether the 14/15 years old Sharifan really gets justice, now depends upon the concerned court (The News, 2018).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Sexual Abuse: Repeatedly forcing someone to have sex.

SOS: A distress call. Some consider an abbreviation of “Save Our Ships” or “Save Our Souls.”

Tech-Head: A person with interest in technology; it is synonymous with techie.

Exploitation: Denying someone their natural right.

Criminal Offence: An act carried out to harm an individual, a community, or a state.

Techie: A person with technical and/or technological expertise.

Violence: In the context of the chapter, this means an action that causes pain or suffering.

Helpline: A landline initiated by a government-sponsored organization in Pakistan to help women in distress.

Emotional Abuse: Hurting someone’s feelings by subjecting them to verbal and/or physical insults.

Stalwart: A brave person; it is synonymous with daredevil.

Safety Apps: A mobile application compatible with android or iOS, or both, equipped with a safety mechanism for subscriber.

Sexual Harassment: Demanding sexual favors as an illegal condition to one’s employment and smooth working at a workplace.

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