On Their Own Terms is an engaging introduction to the inner dynamics of women’s social movements in Pakistan. Pakistani women are often viewed as merely passive victims of heinous crimes. In this book, Dr Saeed shows how they can collectively assert their will to bring change in their own lives, and in the lives of others.
The book provides details of four successful women’s movements since 2000: the provincial movements of the Punjab peasants and the Sindh ﬁsherfolk, and the nationwide movements of the lady health workers and AASHA, the movement against sexual harassment.
On Their Own Terms enables readers to learn about the key players, their issues, their challenges, and the strategies they used. These cases have been written with two audiences in mind. First, the book is meant for the young activists of today. The author carefully documents these movements to provide lessons that can be incorporated into ongoing initiatives and has included stories of courageous women who make us proud. Second, the book is for the policymakers who need to understand the power of Pakistani women to lead social change on their own terms.
Dr Fouzia Saeed has written extensively on Pakistani culture and social issues. Her 2001 ethnography of the walled city of Lahore, Taboo (OUP), retains a cult-like following in five languages. The true story of her successful efforts to counter sexual harassment in her own career, inspiring many who work on this problem today, is chronicled in Working with Sharks.
Dr Saeed earned her PhD from the University of Minnesota. Her unique perspective stems from her many roles as a social activist, a development professional, a successful manager, and an accomplished scholar. She has spent over 30 years on social change in Pakistan. While writing her five books, she also created Pakistan’s first women’s crisis centre, successfully advocated for the passage of seven laws for women’s rights, including two against sexual harassment, and revitalised Lok Virsa, Pakistan’s Institute of Folk Heritage.
International organisations have frequently acknowledged her work. The World Movement for Democracy produced a film on her life, entitled I Was Not Alone. She is also regularly invited to speak at universities in many countries.