Dear Fizza Ali: Dream big for your daughter

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In this day and age where women have achieved so much freedom and are constantly fighting for their rights, celebrity Fizza Ali holds some old school views. In a recent episode of Good Morning Pakistan airing on ARY News, she was asked what she’d like her daughter to be when she grows up and she replied that her wish is to marry her daughter off without any academic achievements.

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A world where women are constantly fighting to attain the right to basic education and opportunities, this does not settle well with those of us who have daughters or little girls around. There are many things to unpack here but first of all, the amount of disappointment that most women will feel after watching this is huge.

Fizza’s daughter is too young to be told these things. Her mother cannot possibly know what the little girl will want when she grows up and neither can she decide for her. Raising her with a mindset that education brings you superior or inferior to a man is problematic beyond words. It implies that higher education is only reserved for men and if women gain access to it, they’re overstepping. Who created these roles?

She said that she doesn’t want to make it difficult for her daughter to find suitable marriage proposals because of her high education. She’s contributing to the mindset that women should not be well educated because if they are more educated than a man, they aren’t fit to be wives. How on earth is being educated the equivalent of telling your husband that his value is under your shoe?

In a single video, Fizza has invalidated all the struggles and achievements of women in the education sector. We have women like Malala Yousafzai and heroes like Arfa Kareem who are constantly a source of immense pride and happiness for us. We have Tasneem Zara Hussain, we have Farzana Aslam, we have Nergis Mavalvala who is a Pakistani-American astrophysicist known for her role in the first observation of gravitational waves. She is the Curtis and Kathleen Marble Professor of Astrophysics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she is also the Associate Head of the Department of Physics. Do these women not make Pakistan proud? Shouldn’t THEY be the role models for young girls instead of some aunty who is against education of women and focused on getting girls married before their “expiration date”?

As mothers, we need to give our daughters the gift of education. I cannot emphasize on how important it is to educate a woman and push her through the struggles of life. We need to do better by our daughters. We need to give them the things that people our age had to fight for. We need to tell them that their worth is not in their degrees but in their hearts. We need to set living standards for them that don’t revolve around marriage and rishtas. We need to prepare them for life not marriage. We need to tell the world that it needs to bend for her, not them to bend for the world.

Where there are celebrities who are using their vast impact to influence masses into changing their backward mindset and invite change, where there are public figures like Malala constantly fighting for the rights of girls to education, where there are numerous examples of women’s achievements, there are also people like Fizza Ali using their platform to promote the toxic ideology of rishtas and branding women for marriage. Women are NOT brands. Their level of education does not determine their worth in someone’s life whether it’s high or low. Their education does not mean they are inferior or superior to their spouse.

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