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Meet Three Women Living On Their Own in Pakistan

It is all about taking that one step

By Hafsa Saeed

Bichari. Beysharam. Badtameez. These three words are most often used to describe a woman who tries to do things against the status quo in Pakistan, especially the ones that challenge the patriarchal hierarchy. And where does this patriarchy begin? At home.

On a minute by minute basis, majority of the women living in Pakistan face micro and systematic oppression on different levels. Simple actions like walking on the streets or sitting at dhabas and having tea are uncomfortable experiences for most women, but why should living in your own home be?

That is exactly what these women wondered when they decided to take a step in the “wrong” direction. Here are three women who have turned a deaf ear to the haw, hayes they hear on a regular basis and have fought to create their own home, on their terms.

Read: 10 Apps For The Independent Pakistani Girl

Scroll down to get inspired.

Meet Iqra Malik from Lahore

The 26 year old who works in the finance department of a Government owned Power Generating Company has been living on her own with a few housemates since 2015.

What led to the big step?

Despite being the only daughter, loved dearly by her parents, living independently was Iqra’s dream.

“I used to dream about being independent, being on my own, being able to get anything I want without asking anyone, and for people to recognize me for who I am rather whose daughter or sister or wife I am!”

She believes that financial independence leads towards emotional independence. Aah, this nugget of wisdom shall stay with us for a long time.

Read: Fitness For The Working Woman

The challenges

“Guys who live alone also face issues but as a woman it’s more difficult because you aren’t ever really empowered to take care of yourself,” explains Iqra. ” I also believe that financial independence leads to emotional independence, and that is a goal I have for myself.”

How to overcome the challenges?

Living alone means doing everything on your own; from paying bills to buying every item on the grocery list. Most importantly, it means returning home with no one to help distribute the stress.

“I overcome any tiny or major problems by taking one thing at time,’ says Iqra. “And I’ve surrounded myself with a lot of independent young women – that’s a source of motivation for me, sharing the everyday struggle with them.”

Iqra adds that if it gets too tough, she always Skypes with her parents or other loved ones. However, she does point out that the worst time to be on your own is when you are sick and you have to make soup yourself.

Her tip for you

“All you need is a strong will and a job to pay your bills.”

Meet Rija Ali from Karachi

Moving back to Pakistan from America was a huge step for Rija, but the PR girl was never scared of it.

What led to the big step?

She knew with a country that has such a large population, starting her own business and introducing new products would be “an experience that one can never learn from books.”

The challenges?

Living in a city which literally kills you every day with overbearing traffic and a weak infrastructure.

“Surprisingly, I can easily go out on my own to work, gym and basically do everything I want to.”

But not everything’s hunky dory. She admits that it gets annoying when the power goes off or water decides to ghost you, but she’s learnt how to manage it.

The biggest challenge for her, however, is the people.

“They judge you for doing your own thing But I have thick skin and have gotten used to it. I try to keep negative people out of my life.”

How to overcome the challenges?

She’s positive, patient, and knows it will work out. She believes that nothing is worth stressing over too much and hard work always pays off.

Log kya kahenge, is so yesterday,” she laments. “The mindset is changing and people who truly love and care for you will always be there.”

Her tip for you

“It’s beautiful when you can rely on your own self and focus on your goals. Living alone is a great experience and a journey of self-discovery.”

Meet Sana Alvi from Lahore

Sana, Assosicate Publicist at Lotus Client Management and Public Relations, was born in Saudi Arabia and despite having a great childhood, she never really felt connected to her the country her parents belonged to: Pakistan.

What led to the big step?

Since Saudi Arabia doesn’t have a decent higher education system, the decision of coming to Pakistan and living on her own came “naturally”.

The challenges

People try to take advantage of you if there’s no family to back you. That’s the general belief. And unfortunately, it is true.

“They [people] try to intimidate you,” says Sana.

However, her biggest challenge has been the taboo attached to single girls living on their own.

“I have been questioned, kicked out of a house, harassed with queries; only because people around me could not understand that it is possible for a girl to be independent AND respectable.”

Living alone, to them, equates with losing dignity.


How to overcome the challenges?

The way forward is to “make your own decisions, get to know yourself, trust yourself, and be confident in your values and choices while being open to new experiences”.

Her tip for you

It has taught Sana way more than her degree or job ever did.

“It is not all unicorns and rainbows, but once you’ve lived in a country that despite being bombed, terrorized and humiliated is still breathing and growing, you know can live anywhere else in the world,” concludes Sana.