“She should not go to Canada. The environment there is not good for girls. ”
Before coming to Canada, many people told my parents to leave me behind because the west is too liberal. As I write my experiences, please notice how all these experiences send a message that a girl should not be trusted to make good choices.
“Having too much fun will spoil her.”
My parents were told to not take my brothers and I for outings. We were enrolled in a children place where they had computers, books, toys and outdoor equipment for children. I was told by a family member; I should not go. From my experiences, I have learned that women are the biggest reason other women and girls continue to remain stuck.
A lack of children’s bookstores or libraries
When I was around seven, I became really interested in reading Urdu books, but unfortunately, one of the barriers my family and many families in Pakistan face is that there are not many libraries or children’s bookstores. My mom used to buy a few stories that were printed on recycled paper from a convenience store. Otherwise, I would read my own textbooks before school even started. The books that were available at bookstores did not have a variety at the time. “Sorry, you can’t travel on our own.” Growing up, so many girls hear this. I did too. I understand parents’ wish to protect children, but I think in our culture, children (especially) girls are overprotected. They do not get many opportunities to learn life skills. They live in a cocoon and cannot push themselves out even when they really need to later in life.
“Don’t eat too much” “You are eating too little.” “Your hands are so dark” “Your feet look weird.” “Your nose is like a pakora” and it just goes on and on….
We all have heard this one. A healthy body image is so crucial for girls and boys. Thankfully, I did not hear this negative commentary much, but I know girls around me did. A thirteen-year-old girl gets told that she looks too thin/big and she will not get many suitors. It pushes their own inner voice further down.
Sad old Media
Many Pakistani dramas and morning shows continue to revolve around marriage and relationships. Opportunities are all around us but we do not let our girls see them or give them the confidence to build aspirations.
I would love to hear from you
What barriers to confidence did you experience or observe?