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13th monthly study circle for Baacha Khan Fellows

Tuesday, 12 September 2017 16:47
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BKTEF arranges 13th monthly study circle for Baacha Khan Fellows

The Baacha Khan Trust Educational Foundation(BKTEF) held 13th monthly study circle at the BKTEF head office on September 9, 2017. The study circle was attended by almost 40 participants belonging to different districts of khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata including Peshawar, Mardan, Swat, Charsadda, Swabi, Hangu, Dir, Waziristan, Khyber Agency and Tank. The book selected for the study circle was "Pukhtanay khazay ao da Qaam Khidmat" by Dr Syed Waqar Ali Shah.

Different aspects of the book i.e.; the role of women in Khudai Khidmatgar Movement, the role of Pashtun women in social and political movements of the region, major constituents of patriarchy and the role of media in the objectification of women were discussed in detail by Jamila Gilani, Murad Khan, Aqeela, Said Rasool Bittani, Nadia Khan, Wagma Feroz, Sanna Ijaz, Imran Khan, Tariq Pukhtunyar and Imad Khalil.

Later on an open discussion took place in which the the participants discussed the commendable socio-political role of Pashtun women despite financial, social, cultural and educational constraints. They expressed that gender roles had been constructed by the society during the agricultural era for ownership and transmission of land that was associated with power.

Women have been objectified and so has been the case with Pashtun women. The process led to stigmatization of womanhood in general. Shame is associated with women bodies and women and hence women became appendages to men. Perpetuation of this inhuman stigmatisation and stereotyping is a phenomenon that has paralysed half of the population in society in general and in Pashtun/society in particular.

The participants of the study circle maintained that the cultural, structural and religious patriarchy had spread its tentacles to the point where gender segregation was inevitable and where women were divested from their free will and human agency. Participation in social, cultural, and political fields then became a far cry.

The participants expressed that the curriculums in schools and particularly sex education might play substantial role in the deconstruction of patriarchy and gender discrimination.

The role of media in the objectification of women was strongly regretted by the participants who maintained that media portrayed women as objects in advertisements, talk shows, drama, and news stories. Even women political figures were targetted for their choice of clothes and get up rather than their stance on a particular political issue. It was pointed out by one of the participants that shame was associated with a woman in a case as inhuman as sexual assault where the victim was blamed for "losing her honour".

The participants agreed that its now time for women activists , writers and even the local community women to come out and counter the taboos and stereoptypes.

The participants concurred that though there was an old tradition of Pashtun women playing important role in social and political spheres from Nazo bibi to Bibi Alai and from Malalai of Mewand to Alif Jana Khatta but Pashtun women played active role in the freedom struggle, social reforms and emancipation for the first time through the platform of Khudai Khidmatgaar Movement.

The discussion was concluded by Dr.Khadim Hussain who expressed gratitude to the author for highlighting a hitherto hidden aspect of a great movement, the Khudai Khidmatgaar Movement. He said that the Khudai Khidmatgar movement was one of the world's first movements to break the narrative and system of patriarchy. The narrative of KK Movement cut the roots of patriarchy through accepting women's identity, free will, ownership and created space for women in educational, economic, social, political, journalistic and cultural spheres. It was due to the unending struggle of Baacha Khan and his comrades that a society, where tribalism and feudalism once reigned supreme, was cleansed from the plague of patriarchy.

The only way out for the Pakhtuns and other societies of the region to pull themselves out of the quagmire of extremism and gender construct is to follow the philosophy of Baacha Khan and the model developed by the KK movement, i.e., adoption and struggle for the narrative of human dignity, social justice, contribution to human civilisation, institutionalisation of dialogue, gender equity, equitable space for participation in self governance and non violence. Strong networking among researchers, educationists, political parties, social organisations, cultural organisations and writers' associations is needed to struggle for developing an alternative discourse as opposed to the discourse of extremist narrative.

The next study circle has been decided to be held on October 7, 2017. The text selected for the coming study circle is 'Baghdadi Peer' by Naseer Ahmad Ahmadi.

Report by Natasha.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 September 2017 17:47
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