Only a few years ago women of Swat were banned from leaving homes, let alone leading from the forefront. As security forces drove militants out of the area, women started to see winds of change. From Tabassum Adnan working for women’s rights in Swat to Malala Yousafzai, who is campaigning for education of girls and Humaira Shaukat who became the first female lawyer of Swat.
Hina Patras has now emerged as the first female contender from the Christian community. She has joined the group of brave women to contest local government polls for a district councilor seat in Saidu Sharif.
25 year old Patras, has a masters degree in sociology and is a professional social worker in her area. Fighting for minorities and protecting their rights is not the only reason she was pushed to contend for elections but she aims to serve humanity irrespective of religion and creed.
Patras says she will do all she can to fight for women’s rights and for the rights of marginalized people, but she also calls for collective action. “Alone I cannot do much, but collectively we can make a difference.” A staunch believer in equality, she said, “I am not a minority, I am an equal citizen of this country
In an interview she said, “In my social work, when I meet poor communities, particularly women, my heart sinks. I want them be happy and prosperous, with equal rights,” she says, adding the major hurdle in women speaking up for their rights is lack of awareness and education.”
The difficulties she will face in a male dominated region are well recognized by Patras. “Some people tried to put pressure on me to give up the idea of contesting. They said politics is not a woman’s job but I will show them that women can be better at it than men, if they have the support of their community and passion to serve,” she says.
Women of the area have already approached her and demanded a playground, a university and a skill training school in Swat if she is successful