After a referendum in Britain where it chose to exit the EU, Theresa May, was swiftly the Prime Minister. David Cameron exited and she constitutionally took his place.
Britain has a woman Prime Minister and simultaneously a Muslim of Pakistani heritage Mayor of London. A win that clearly emerges from its centuries old democratic tradition and not from what our people rely on: influence. This is perhaps why our marginalized communities remain on the fringes.
Theresa May may be a proponent of tough terror laws and stringent immigration policies, her politics is not the point entirely. The point is that children in the UK, both boys and girls, will grow up knowing that having a woman Prime Minister is not just possible, but done, once again. A woman at the head of affairs running the country from its economy and investments to what policies govern its working class, talks volumes about how its not a question of if but a question of why not.
Malala Yousufzai said, “We will not accept a world where decisions about our future are made in rooms girls cannot enter.”
Sadly on our side of the world, women are kept behind closed doors where none of the decisions take place about anything substantive, except maybe the type of bread to have that day. We have such stubborn conservatism in this country that I bet it will survive a nuclear holocaust, the kind that will be left behind with the cockroaches.
Whereas Theresa May has identified that the wage gap between men and women in the UK must go, our challenge in Pakistan is that we want women to be seen. In some of our cities particularly in KP and FATA women aren’t allowed to take their kids to school, get milk or God forbid scout for economic opportunities.
The world is changing. We find that it is no longer defined by the values and preferences of as early as the 2000s. LEDs are going out of market, taxis are being replaced by Ubers and women are becoming more competent than men in many fields. Thankfully for the rest of the world the world is more fluid.
Inclusion of women in leadership positions means more productivity, more representation and more transparency, at the least. It also means respite from the ultra combative nature of men’s politics. It means a move towards inclusion and hopefully sustainability.
Men who prop men into positions of power do it at the expense of women’s silence. This creates a vacuum and those always must get filled.
The Suffragettes however warned us that women’s deeds and not words determine their feminism. Many in the UK find May’s policies lacking, particularly for women, even though she is propped as a “woman’s woman.”
From our more external perspective, May’s Prime Ministership is both a joy for women and somewhat of a taser gun. Its time we move 50% of the boys out, decade by decade. Its time Pakistani women are given the turn they deserve for the top positions.
On a recent Facebook post of a large Pakistani conference with an all male panel, I congratulated the organizers for excluding the entire cadre of women leaders in the country. They protested by saying they don’t care about optics and being fashionable. I both cringed and smiled – cringed because reducing equal representation to a game of optics is both unfair and unmindful of men’s privilege and I smiled because it is about time men start thinking its fashionable to have women included, because only then will be bring back the cool in equality.
Teresa May, whatever her politics may be, is a huge boost to the woman’s movement globally, without its pettiness. If her politics is bad, let it be, after all, how come men have the monopoly on making bad choices and somehow women are held up only to standards of perfection. The thing with leadership positions is that you can’t get it all right, and its about time that we are ok with women not getting it all right all the time, or even most of the time.
When our woman Prime Minister, the first one in the Muslim world, Benazir Bhutto said, “Democracy needs support, and the best support for democracy comes from other democracies,” perhaps she also meant that Pakistan could use 10 Downing street to lend it some inspiration – this time for once again, getting Pakistani women to at least start thinking about being Prime Minster.