Origin of Women’s Studies in Pakistan

In this article, I am going to share with you the origin of Women’s Studies in Pakistan. In the CSS examination, it is also important to discuss some historic background of the origin of women’s studies. With the help of historic background, you can better understand how women’s studies originate in Pakistan.

History of Women’s Studies

Women’s studies originated in American colleges and universities in the late 1960s. Some revolutionary students in American colleges and universities during the late 1960s focused on three issues: university complicity in the Vietnamese war and the defense-related research associated with it, the constitutional issue of university governance, particularly the role of students as a consumer and clients; and curricular reforms.

Although the first two received much national and international popularity and publicity, the third was also an essential element in the curriculum reforms for higher education. These students were insisting that they should have free choice of offering a course that is needed according to their own interests.

The ideas of the free university and free university courses were floated at the same time. Students were of the opinion that they had the right to take more relevant courses according to Tobias (1978).

Women’s studies are sometimes considered to some extent a derivative of the ideas and purpose of free university women’s studies means courses on women, sex roles, sex inequality, the politics of gender, beliefs about male-female differences, etc.

Such courses began without substantial prior organization at many colleges and universities in 1969.

Although the attitude towards women’s studies was similar to that which stimulated back and ethnic studies, the spread of women’s studies and its impact on research and teaching seems to have been far greater and long-lasting.

Women’s Studies have involved challenging the gendered nature of courses and scholarship, but it is also concerned with adopting a critical stance towards teaching and learning.

In part, this is associated with theorizing the relationship between education, hierarchy, and power. In the beginning, many feminists were influenced by the writings of Paulo Freire (1972). Friere was critical of what he referred to as the ‘banking’ model of education: Where students are assumed to know nothing and the teacher is the master of knowledge and can pass knowledge to them.

Freire was of the opinion that this method was to create an unequal power relationship between teacher and students in which the teacher is dominant and the student take a subordinate position.

So teaching and learning activity in women’s studies courses and classes is generally based on the equal power relation and it is reinforced through ideologies and theories within the feminist thoughts and women’s studies course and contents.

Besides contesting masculine knowledge gender-biased scholarship and women’s political agendas, Women’s studies also evolved their own themes, concepts, and methodologies to attempt to counteract the situation prevailing in the societies with reflexivity, self-awareness, and self-criticism which are also the hallmark of women’s studies in the 1990s.

Origin of Women’s Studies in Pakistan

Women’s Studies as a multidisciplinary subject has developed in the west in response to a strong women’s movement and its scope and theories have evolved after long and intense debates.

We in Pakistan need this discipline to study and bring into focus the issues females are facing in our societies.

It is also very important that the theories and thoughts that are developed in the west must be modified in the light of our own cultural and social context.

It was in the 1970s that women’s issues began to receive serious attention. One of its results was the creation of a women’s Division in Pakistan.

In 1989, this Division decided to fund Women’s Studies centers at five universities in Pakistan. What is most important in Pakistan regarding these centers is that Pakistan’s women’s issues, problems, and constraints must be considered carefully in their Pakistani cultural and social scenario.

These changes must be taken into account in keeping our traditions and values that must be neutral to every individual in the Pakistani society not on the basis of man and woman.


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