This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Gender Roles And The Media in Pakistan: A Review

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Zawwar Siddiqui with inputs by Waleed Tariq:

The first question that arises is what is gender stereo typing? Mostly people would say that it’s basically to put people down because of their sex. According to me, it’s simply a basic generalization made regarding gender differences, qualities and roles of groups or individuals. We must keep in mind the fact that stereotypes can either be positive or negative.

Pakistan has a flourishing media; both electronic and print. However, one of the most continuing prejudices in Pakistani society is its gender inequality as reflected in the socio-economic and political spheres of life, limiting the types of roles and responsibilities women can undertake.

Media in Pakistan generally portrays gender issues in a biased manner. Women are portrayed as weak, dependent and lacking enlightened approach, while men as aggressive, earners, insensitive and manipulative.

Here, my focus will be on gender stereotype in our national, Pakistani media. Dramas, movies are a way to describe gender stereotype itself. They are usually profit oriented ventures having a purpose of attracting audience and viewership. In order to do so, a drama has to be creative and eye catching in such a way that the message conveyed should be understood in the first attempt while viewing it.

The visual piece I’ve chosen to further illustrate my view point is ‘Khuda Kay Liye’, a nationally produced drama film, written and directed by Shoaib Mansoor in the year 2007. It is considered to be one of the super-hit Urdu movies of that year. It proved to be successful both nationally and internationally. The cast included Hameed Sheikh, Iman Ali, Fawad Afzal Khan and Shan with a special guest appearance of veteran Indian artist, Naseeruddin Shah.

Story goes on with a wealthy prosperous family of two brothers; Mansoor (Shan) and Sarmad (Fawad Khan), both being musicians. While Mansoor goes to a foreign university to study music, here Sarmad joins a radical Islamist group under which he is so influenced that he leaves his music career and becomes a religious extremist.

On the contrary, Mansoor learns music, falls in love with a foreign girl in Chicago and marries her. Sarmad who has a distant cousin Marium (Iman Ali), in Britain also wants to marry a white man, however, her father disapproves, yet he lives with white woman himself, whom he’s not married too.

Eventually he takes her daughter to the FATA areas of Pakistan and gets her married to her cousin, Sarmad, secretly and forcefully without the latter’s parents knowing about it. Sarmad and Marium are now staying as husband and wife in a remote village where women are kept at home most of the time, they cannot go to school or any place without a male relative accompanying them and that they have no say at all in the eyes of a man.

The gender stereo type portrait in this master piece is that throughout the film, women have been subject to abuse, who must obey whatever they are being told to do especially in the remote places like FATA. She cannot marry someone of her choice, cannot leave the house at her own will and have no right to question her husband regarding anything, even if she’s right. Her only job is to please the family all the time even if it’s against her own wish and must be obliged to whatever being told to do.

Not only that, even living in a modern family in London, Marium was fooled by her father to marry her cousin Sarmad, the best part being that she wasn’t even informed about it. It was an extreme sort of forceful marriage at the last minute without a family reunion or celebration, at least not the type I’m familiar with or ever heard of in my entire life.

The men in the movie were depicted as being bold, supreme, outrageous and charming. They were not told what to do; they had the right to do whatever they felt like doing regardless if it was against the interest of the opposite sex. It showed how Mansoor went to Chicago, did what he wanted which was to learn music and married the girl he liked. Basically, he had the option to choose rather than be obliged by someone or told what to do. The other brother Sarmad, who forcefully married his cousin, had all the rights over her, therefore he could abuse her, beat and ill-treat her and yet wasn’t answerable to anyone.

Towards the end, Marium took her father and husband to court where to defend her case, it was a progressive Moulana (Naseeruddin Shah), who again was a man with a very prestige image. At the end of the day it was a man who came for her rescue, he was her savior.

If we compare this with western stereotype, then the drama I prefer to pick is ‘Gone with the Wind’, which is also a master piece for its time and was like by millions all around the world. The major differences I came across the eastern movie ‘Khuda Kay Liye’ and the western movie ‘Gone with the Wind’ was that our movie was based on our norms, culture, ethnicity and religion which makes us more conservative. Whereas the western movies are based on the ideology of free will and liberalism, yet again they focus more peer pressure on women as being the slave and the man as being her master.

You must be to comment.
  1. anjum dhamija

    The society, by and large, is coming out of all these shackles but, the negativity prevails on-screen. There is always a desire for certain people who can have pity over others.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Saira Nikhat

By Olipriya Roy

By shakeel ahmad

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below