Before the late colonial period in British India and after the independence, the women of this area, particularly the Muslim women have a great history of struggle for their fundamental rights. Arguments emphasizing the removal of the vitality of their lives. In fact from the four walls of the home to the public life, women had always been deprived of their socio-economic and political rights.
The beginning of the twentieth century, however, proved a crucial in the development of new spaces for the Muslim women and the emergence of a nascent feminist consciousness among them. Indeed it was the result of socio-cultural transformation of Indian society, which was the result of the efforts of different kinds of agencies. Prominent among were those of the Government and social organizations. Due to the fruitful efforts of these agencies, eventually, women were not only able to lessen the intensity of prevailing social prejudices against them but also got a better position in the different spheres of life, for instance, the development of female educational cultural sought to prolong the age of consent as well as the development of the idea of safe motherhood.
The growing awareness about the betterment of women led both the British Government and Indian society to take further step forwarding for the social legislation and political enfranchisement of women. The best examples might be mentioned in the forms of Child Restraint Marriage Act of 1929, The Application of Muslim Shariat Act of 1937 and the Dissolution of Marriages Act of 1939. Similarly, their political rights included the right of the casting of vote and the contesting of election were incorporated in the Act of 1935. As a result, the participation of Muslim women in community politics came into being and the dream of the creation of Pakistan became true in 1947.
After the independence, the women of Pakistan tremendously participated in nation-building activities as well as in their own social uplift. The foundation of the All Women Pakistan Association in 1949 can be cited as the best example in this regard.
Despite of all these facts and developments one can not say that the Pakistani women have got exactly, their due rights: as a weaker section of society, they are still subject to various social, economic and political discriminations.
However, one cannot ignore the fact that some visible changes are occurring in every walk of life. The women are asserting their identities and looking themselves to find the essentials. The issue of women is therefore, facilitating as a highly profiled agenda on the national and global levels. For instance, the United Nations Decade of Women (1975-85) as provided impetus for the creation of new thinking on the issues of women. During and after the ‚€˜Decade‚€™ governmental and non-governmental initiatives were taken in this direction. Initially, this new kind of approach was not highly welcomed by the government, as it was not ready to make any types of commitments that might increase the socio-political pressures from the different social groups on gender basis.
In recent years, however, like many other developing countries, new approach has been developed to deal with women‚€™s question-Gender and Development. It is based on gender empowerment, which means the control over resources and proper share in decision-making process.
To deal the matter of women empowerment in the context of changing circumstances, different kinds of parameters have been adopted through the different agencies (governmental, non-governmental organizations). The information that produced by these agencies, do not fulfill the requirements for an advanced and academic work on the issues of women empowerment. They are based on indirect, insufficient and some specified sources. Most of the data are either artificial or have been collected with meager justification of the subject, hence not be able to give accurate and desirable facts and figures. as a result, any researcher might not be in apposition to reveal the features of the matter of women‚€™s empowerment in Pakistan. The present work, therefore, seeks to fill the above-mentioned gap as well as to offer some thought on the different issues of gender and their impact on the lives of women of Pakistan.
Another important feature of this research is to analyze of those traditional and fundamental structures of our society that are responsible for gender discrimination and women disempowerment. Thus the research mainly, grows around the social, political and economic structures of society vis-√†-vis the matter of women empowerment. To analyze the different levels of the structures of empowerment, various kinds of sources have been used. Besides the official published data, reports and proceedings, a large amount of data has also been collected through a questionnaire designed for the women, belonging to different regions, class and age. The study also concentrates those facts that are based on new forces of change, economic necessities and transformed social structures.
In the same way, the present study divulges a strong positive relationship between women‚€™s economic independence and their share in decision-making process in household affairs that may empower them on community and national levels.