Rawalpindi:According to a famous African proverb, If you teach a boy, you educate an individual; but if you teach a girl, you educate a community. Educating women is vital for the growth and progress of a society. One cannot expect a nation to prosper in today s competitive world if its women are left behind.
Pakistan has around 132 universities that are imparting quality education to students. Most of these institutions follow the co-education system. However, Fatima Jinnah Women University (FJWU), being the first institution of its kind for females, has played a pivotal role in women s emancipation by offering educational facilities in an environment conducive to learning. The university has paved paths for them to achieve a brighter future.
The learning environment be it co-education or any other system has a substantial impact on students. Students of FJWU expressed different opinions regarding the pros and cons of studying in a female-oriented environment.
Aqsa, a student of B.ECO at FJWU says, I got admitted to this university, not because it is a women s institution but because it is well-reputed, provides an environment that is comfortable and competitive, and enables students to pursue their courses without fear or insecurity.
Being part of a patriarchal society, there are certain stereotypes attached to women s behaviour, and they are often subjected to constant reminders by their elders that they are women and are supposed to act as such.
Ayesha Khalid, a student of BCA shared her views, In a culture like ours, such institutions are important as girls need to have at least one place where they get to be who they want to be, and explore themselves more openly and freely.
There are still some established cultural and traditional norms in our society, and one of the most common issues that women come across is parents reluctance to send their daughters to study in the same institutions as men.
Aisha Siddiqua, a student of English department believes that such institutions are a ray of hope for women who are bound by social restrictions, and in their absence, would remain deprived of the joys of university life. You can act up to your utmost potential without any hesitation. You feel more confident and your self-respect is untainted...I can study with more concentration than anywhere else...Moreover, parents feel apprehensive about our future; they shudder at the thought of their girls studying with males and this is largely because of the societal pressure, Ayesha said.
Ayesha Mehmood, a former student of FJWU, believes that one of the drawbacks of studying in such institutions is lack of confidence while interacting with men. I feel that I am not competent enough to work with men and mostly feel hesitant talking to male peers and colleagues as I was so used to my university environment, she said.
Hafsa of Bachelors Communication Sciences disagreed with this notion. We do get an opportunity to interact with men as there is an organized system at FJWU, according to which it is compulsory for every student to pursue community work and a 6-week internship which develops confidence in them and gives them enough exposure and knowhow of their professional workplace, she pointed out.
Maria Kafil from the English Department believes that there are instances when even co-education cannot develop confidence in women. I have studied in co-education for 12 years and could not perform well; I was shy. I opted for an all-girls medium for my bachelors in a government college. Believe me, the experience and the contrast between the two mediums compelled me to seek admission in FJWU, she said.
On the whole, students studying at FJWU are contented with the environment and the academia. Such institutions have helped women in overcoming the many barriers that they have to face in their academic lives. Moreover, the education provided by these institutions helps women to excel in both their professional as well as domestic lives. If institutions like these will cease to exist, then we as a nation and a country as a whole will suffer irreparable damage.
(The writers are students of the Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi).The news.