‘Humans of NY’: Socialist Feminist Pakistani-American Speaks About Struggle Against Poverty & Patriarchy

A socialist feminist Pakistani-American spoke with the popular blog Humans of New York about her struggle against poverty and patriarchy.

Illustrating the intersection of multiple forms of oppression and struggle against that systemic injustice—what Trinidadian-American marxist journalist Claudia Jones termed “triple oppression” (capitalism, patriarchy, and white supremacy) as far back as the 1950s, and what critical race theorist Kimberlé Crenshaw later characterized as “intersectionality”—the young woman described the fight against poverty and capitalism as an inextricable part of the fight against sexism and misogyny, and vice versa.

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It’s a difficult time to be a socialist. The left has been depleted everywhere else, but in Pakistan it’s been decimated. I belong to an organization called the Awami Worker’s Party, and right now is a crucial moment for us. We are trying to resist slum evictions in Islamabad. There is no affordable housing in the city, so servants and laborers huddle together in informal settlements called kachi abadis, which have no water or electricity. Recently, the Islamabad high court has issued an eviction notice, and the land is being sold out beneath them. They are defending their actions by saying that terrorists hide in the slums. Right now an operation is underway to remove the slum inhabitants by force.

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One beautiful thing about advocating for the poor is that feminist ideals are advanced naturally. In order to fight eviction from their homes, women who patriarchy has kept secluded have been allowed to emerge into public life. Their husbands have been forced to choose their homes over their idea of honor. Even within my organization, the patriarchy is being broken down. Energetic young females are beginning to share influence with older male members. When you’re in a tough fight for a common cause, you can’t afford to be choosy about where the best ideas are coming from.