The state of women’s rights in Pakistan is often questioned in Pakistan. It is believed that women have no rights or privileges in Pakistan’s patriarchal society. Before discussing whether women have rights in Pakistani society or not, one must first understand Pakistani society. Pakistan is a Muslim country, where people not only take pride in strictly adhering to Islamic values but are ready to sacrifice all they hold dear for the glory and sanctity of Islam. Islam has accorded a highly venerated social position to women. Islam acknowledges the rights and privileges of women in society. Likewise, Islam does not impose any restrictions that may hamper social growth and development of women. A woman is an equally important member of society. The women in Pakistan have been constantly complaining of having being isolated from mainstream society. Women feel disillusioned on being maltreated by the male-oriented set up in Pakistan. They strongly claim that if they are given a chance, they can contribute more positively towards the development of all social aspects. However Pakistani society usually adopts a hostile attitude towards the women. Their development in society is hindered due to many factors. Particularly the rural woman has to tolerate unbearable dominance by the other sections of society. Numerically the women in Pakistan are almost equal to men. They are equal in potential as men. The Pakistani women live in the most diversified location of the tribal, feudal or urban environments. She can be a highly qualified and self-confident professional or a diffident peasant toiling along with her men-folk. A significant number of women in Pakistan observe ‘Pardha’ while coming out of their homes or when mixing with men in social settings. The concept of the ‘Pardha,’ or veil, is meant to segregate the women-folk from the male section of the society. The women are not prohibited from working but at the same time are supposed to keep their behaviour in line with Islamic values. Because of the pardha system, most women (particularly of low education) have to work at home to contribute financially to the household. They involve themselves in knitting, dressmaking, embroidery and other such endeavours. In areas like Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, life is governed and regulated by a strict set of beliefs and behavioural patterns. Often a woman has no say in any aspect of her life, including her marriage. In the provinces of Sindh and Punjab, a woman may keep her connections with her family after marriage. She is expected to receive economic and emotional support from her brothers and father in case she gets a divorce from her husband. In Punjab and Sindh, women work the fields alongside men, collecting fuel and in some cases working on the construction sites shifting material from one place to another. Most women in rural areas have to bear the double burden of domestic work as well as other jobs to earn money. They are the first to rise and the last to go to bed. They light the fire to prepare breakfast, wash the utensils and clean the house before setting out to work on whatever they were working on before. When every member has gotten out of bed after completing the day’s work, they are engaged in more work. Although the conditions of women in urban areas are better than those of rural women. Traditions and religious restraints have hindered women’s independence to a great degree. However, Pakistan is still the first country in the Muslim world that has elected a woman as its prime minister, that too twice. Women’s rights are the basis for the women’s rights movement in the nineteenth century and feminist movements during the 20th century. In some countries, these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behaviour. Whereas in others they are ignored and suppressed. They differ from broader notions of human rights through claims of an inherent historical and traditional bias against the exercise of rights by women and girls, in favour of men and boys. Issues commonly associated with notions of women’s rights include, though are not limited to; the right to bodily integrity and autonomy, to be free from sexual violence and exploitation, to vote, to hold public office, to enter into legal contracts, to have equal rights in family law, to work, to fair wages or equal pay as men, to have reproductive rights, to own property and to education. The Qur’an, revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) over the course of years, provided guidance to the Islamic community and modified existing customs in Arab society. From 610 and 661, known as the early reforms under Islam, the Qur’an introduced fundamental reforms to customary law and introduced rights for women in marriage, divorce, and inheritance. By providing that the wife, not her family, would receive a dowry from the husband, which she could administer as her personal property, the Qur’an made women a legal party to the marriage contract. While in customary Arab law, inheritance was limited only to male descendants. The Qur’an introduced rules on inheritance with certain fixed shares being distributed to designated heirs, first to the nearest female relatives and then the nearest male relatives. According to Annemarie Schimmel “compared to the pre-Islamic position of women, Islamic legislation meant an enormous progress; the woman has the right, at least according to the law, to administer the wealth she has brought into the family or has earned herself.” Women were not accorded with such legal status in other cultures until centuries later. According to Professor William Montgomery Watt, when seen in such historical context, Muhammad “can be seen as a figure who testified on behalf of women’s rights.” The writer is a freelance journalist associated with the development sector. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org twitter: @mqesar Published in Daily Times, October 12th 2017.