Woman empowerment and dowry system in Pakistan

Aslam looks gloomy on the birth of his fourth daughter. He was happy on the birth of his first daughter, but the following three daughters were unwelcoming that darkened the shadows; Alsam never brings this repression to his lips. His wife also does not look much different from him. The guilt and fears of the unknown have created wrinkles on her face much before the time. The glitter of his eyes looks fading; the grooves on her forehead is a clear reflection of an ongoing turmoil in her. She had seen her father in the same conditions years before. Perhaps, she is facing the second episode of this emotional dilemma. The dowry she brought has not been a matter of joy for her. Indeed, it mirrors her old father’s crinkled grimace.

The mind of Aslam, her husband, is always over occupied by the thoughts of how he will manage dories for his 4 daughters? He better thinks to accumulate a reasonable amount for their marriages instead of giving education and quality food to them. We thought a son could help him to discharge these social obligations. And this desire rose the number of his daughters to four. The empty eyes of younger daughters stand clueless about the phenomenon their parents enduring.


It’s not only the story of Aslam but, unfortunately, this has become a widespread chronic problem of our society. Synthetic social norms and standards are responsible for approximately 20 million girls waiting for marriage. An overwhelming causing factor is a dowry whitening their hairs at the door-sept of their parents. This is causing great social and emotional frustration. At least, for this, no budget is required by the government; it’s purely an administrative issue. A simple but strong-willed notification can alleviate lavish spending by the affordable to maintain the social equilibrium in the society. The financial resources of the parents can be better spent on the education and nurturing of the girls without any discrimination. But such preferences have never been a cup of tea of the rulers struggling for political survival.

The civil society, NGOs working for women empowerment, and influencers must come up to bring a smile to the face of the millions of sufferers. At least, they can blow the whistle. Remember, even for sons, we need healthy, educated, and emotionally stable mothers.


Pakistan ranked 151 out of 153 countries on the Global Gender Gap Index Report 2020 index, published by the World Economic Forum (WEF), only ahead of Iraq and Yemen. When I see Pakistan that made a woman prime minister two times, and several women are in the parliament by defeating male candidates by a reasonable margin of votes. Recently, a woman candidate defeated the male contestants by a convincing margin in the constituency – NA79, Daska. Interestingly, the current leader of the second-largest political party is also a woman-makes me confused. This gap distinctly manifests contradictions in our social standards, at the individual and national level- a good subject for research by social scientists. Urban Pakistan portrays a better picture comparing to rural folks. Regardless of this debate and authenticity of this report, one thing is clear a big gap for improvement does exist that escalates from rural to urban Pakistan. The position in KPK, Interior Sindh, Interior Punjab, Baluchistan, and federally administrative area, in particular, is not satisfactory. How this challenge could be better managed ??


Gender inequality starts from the very birth hood. Discrimination is upheld even in upbringing. A baby girl is considered a liability due to dowry and our antiquated social norms. It makes baby girls unacceptable to the sizeable segment of society. There are many reasons for this social evil, including the daughters do not support the parents in old age, unlike the sons. The daughters move to their next homes after the marriage. A father starts savings right from the birth hood of a baby girl. And if he has more girls, the shadow gets darker. He wants male support to discharge his liabilities. So, the true curse causing gender inequality is the dowry system. Let me be very honest to say here women of our society are more responsible than men. A woman, as a proud mother of a son, is in a different mindset. Is it a displacement, a defence mechanism postulated by Sigmund Freud? Yes, I think! The women have to steer against the dowry if they need to be empowered. Poverty, illiteracy, misinterpretation of Islamic injunctions, and traditional mindset are the added causal factors. The state looks impotent before the dowry system in this masculine- society. A mother is an institution, responsible primarily for the quality of life of the society, where the survival of the only fittest is possible.

To me, women empowerment should start from a mother not from a girl. A nutritionally deficient, uneducated, emotionally unstable mother cannot better grow the next crop. Gender equality demands an equally good diet, quality education, participation, harassment-free workplace, woman’s placement in non-traditional vocations; equality at the workplace, decision making, and most important should not be considered a liability. The government must outlaw the dowry system. The women who are proud mothers of sons should also sense the aetiology of this discrimination. Why this two-nation theory does not get active at the time of your daughters’ marriage? I must appreciate Baloch culture, where the matrimonial rituals are so simple. The so-called civilised and urban areas should learn from them. Some whistle-blowers and deviators must come up to sensitize the phlegmatic society.

Ghulam Murtaza

Written by Ghulam Murtaza

The Author is a Psychologist and qualified Hand Reader from the United Kingdom.

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