Working Women: Enlightenment OR Necessity


Last week while travelling back to Hyderabad from Karachi on Daewoo Express bus I got a seat with bus hostess[lets’ suppose her name Shazia]- She was friendly, caring and had a very good personality. After serving all passengers water, headphones and magazines, she got few moments to relax and started asking me about my education, future plans and then wished me a good luck.

Out of courtesy[I was way too sleepy and she was too disturbing at that time, bleh] I too asked about her job, responses she gets and the bus environment. My first question came out bit hurting [that I realized later], when I asked ‘aapki job kesy jarahy hai, maza aata hai ?’ : She was taken aback and responded ‘maza kesa, mazaa kerney thorri aatey hain. kaam hai bss‘. The answer got me wide awaken realizing how a simple question[yes! simple for me] can hurt someone. And well that’s quite understood how a bus-hostess in a Pakistan-like society would be managing herself and her job. I hurriedly apologized and told her that I meant if she was comfortable with the environment and all. She got bit relaxed and told me that crew is very good and helpful. Organization is good[kudos to Daewoo] BUT passengers are NOT![as expected].

While reading the NY Times report by A.B. Ellick, Shazia just popped out in my memory[too short-term err]. While people prefer to travel in the safety and peace of Daewoo buses, bus-hostess is also an attractive pull. Shazia said ‘I feel secure because mostly we have got a guard with us but still few people[including women] are just hard to bear and I don’t feel the courage to call the guard in the calmness of bus.’ She further said that many young boys give her tissues after using to throw as if she was some ‘kachra uthaney waali’ and sometimes elderly ladies send her disgusting looks as if she was, well some prostitute and not a khandani dosheeza. Though she was happy that people can’t act worse because of the presence of guard, driver and pre-departure recordings but this job needs the courage to not only fight with the family but also the society, for which I think I don’t need to say much as the post by CHUP and nytimes has already said much. Same is the case with Shazia: her family was at first too reluctant but realizing the need of money coming in the house they got ‘chup’ and let her continue the work but her relatives have boycotted her family and she is not getting any good marriage proposals as she is considered a bad girl.

Note that mostly women at KFC, McDonald franchises, hostesses in buses and in other such customer related jobs, cover their heads properly. It shows the religiosity but more than that it shows the show off of religion meant to declare that ‘Look! I’m a muslim, I’m neither easy, nor a prostitute. I’m a good lady!

The time that I spent with Shazia over the 2 hours journey and then Ellick’s post affirms the fact that increasing working women doesn’t show any enlightenment of Pakistani nation rather it shows the need that is caused by increasing inflation. Not only the lower-middle class but even the higher-middle class[only if it exists] women have joined the mainstream workforce mainly because of sharing the men-load BUT still the man of Pakistan is worried!

He is worried because he is loosing attention. He is bothered because he is soon gonna lose the status of family-head. He is annoyed because for him working woman means disobedient, progressive and liberal, modern chicks who stop caring about family traditions and cultural norms and thus leads to family dishonor! But still he is helpless and is forced to let her woman go out because of the thankful inflation.

Enough said, bottom line is that ‘Enlightenment or necessity, it’s kinda national progress’.. So let’s face it!


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