Sister Zeph, a teacher and girls’ education advocate in Pakistan, responds to the results of the US presidential election with a call to women everywhere.
“Today we have the opportunity to become more vocal for women’s rights than ever.”
It is 10 pm on the 9th of November. In the US, the presidential election has reached its conclusion. It has been a tough day, though it started out with hope—hope for me and for the women of the world.
In Pakistan I am almost 12 thousand kilometers away from the US, but still my heart was there. I was planning to celebrate women that night and the beginning of a new history. I thought I would see a great victory for women when, for the first time, a woman was recognized as the leader of the world’s super power.
I had so many dreams before my eyes, and our global sister Hillary Clinton was constantly in my thoughts. That day, I walked down the road with a strange energy; everything in front of me shined. I felt as though each person on this earth was thinking about the American election, and I was excited for its results.
In my office everyone had updates on the election running on their computer screens. Between our work tasks we were watching the counting of each vote, and we were optimistic. But around 11am the mood in the room and the tone of the conversations online changed. Everywhere I looked on social media I saw people asking, “Why?”, “How?”, “Oh my God, how is it possible?”, “How can they do it?”, “Is it true?”, “Is it a dream?”.
But it was a reality. We were all in shock and still are. One question our generation will continue asking is who made this decision on 9 November 2016 and why. We will keep looking for its answer; I do not know for how many years.
This is one story of this month’s election, but there is also another—one that leads us back to shining toward unity. It is the story of how this election has brought together women from every corner of the world and given us the opportunity to stand up for each other and empower each other.
When we see that, even in the 21st century, one of the most educated and advanced nations in the world will not accept an extremely qualified woman as president, we realize how much work still needs to be done to achieve equality for women.
We wonder: If it is still impossible for a woman to become president in the US, then what is possible for the women who are not free to make their own choices in life, even choices about what to eat, what to wear, when to sleep, and when to wake up? And what about the women who bear so much pain that their only hope is life after death in heaven?
Today we have the opportunity to become more vocal for women’s rights than ever. If we keep silent, our daughters will have to face the same world we face now. They will be qualified and prepared to lead, but no one will accept them as leaders. They will be rejected just because they are women.
Because of the Internet, this election was not only discussed by American politicians and TV anchors, but also by ordinary people in every corner of the world, over cups of tea, on work breaks, in rickshaws and buses, in kitchens and grocery shops. The Internet brings those from all walks of life and all nations together, which I believe is the biggest miracle on this earth.
Thanks to the online World Pulse platform, women of the world have a space to come together and share their problems, their sorrows, their happiness, and their successes. This is a place where we get to know each other and learn about what is happening to our sisters around the world. We also learn how to help each other, how to learn from each other’s experiences, and how to become sources of strength for each other.
The Internet also has the power to shake the world in minutes.
Today’s defeat is not a defeat of women but of equality. We still live in a world where women are valued less than men and seen as not as smart, not as strong, not as powerful, and having fewer leadership qualities. But I believe in women.
I believe women can achieve every goal, play every role, and even be president of a great nation. To prove this to ourselves we have to be united as women. Together we can prove that if a woman can manage a home she can manage a country too.