Today marks the thirteenth day of Sajida facing brutal verbal and physical abuse by her husband. To her nothing matters more than her daughter’s (Shahzadi) chance to get her right to go to school. She is determined to face this onslaught and send her daughter to the newly opened private school in her vicinity than to take her along to Baji Sumaira’s place to work as a maid. Bless Baji Sumaira for financing Shahzadi’s schooling. To her this violence from her husband is the early signs of defeat. She knows she will get her way eventually and to her, resilience is her major strength. Before my doctoral research on ‘Women Empowerment’, I had a very simplified definition of an empowered female in my mind. To me if a female was educated, had a fair degree of control over her life, was earning and spending that money with her own free will; had some freedom of mobility in her life then she was definitely an empowered person. At that time I may have considered a battered uneducated house maid with little control over her own money with a drug addict husband to be not-empowered. However, during my research I had an opportunity to visit all 36 districts of Punjab and meet many inspiring and resilient females. During this ethnographic study of multiple participants many of the myths I had as an urban woman vanished in thin air. We, especially, the polished, educated white collared people cannot possibly understand the complex and intricate nature of the empowerment process of the majority of rural and poor, uneducated females. These brave ladies, yes I will call them brave, because they face all social, emotional, physical even sexual threats from their own families and yet survive day after day to fight for their dreams; not many of them can actually achieve them, yet what matters most are their undying spirits. A woman in Pakistan sacrifices happily and quietly for her siblings, for her husband, her in-laws and mostly for her kids. She is the saving force which provides hidden funds at dire times for the family. No one knows how many of her own needs, she sacrifices to collect the funds in the first place. What pains me the most is to see the lack of social security system for women, the total acceptance of domestic violence as a personal family matter, acid and kerosene burns another incidence to forget. In spite of many legal protection bills in favour of the women, countless still remain unheard and alone. On issues like financial stress, infertility (which can be of male partner as well), lack of male heir, possession, jealousy and inferiority. complex; males react violently by throwing acid, raping or even murdering females in our country Question to ask ourselves here is don’t women know how to use acid or kerosene? Can’t they get these materials from the market as freely as men? Then why don’t we hear acid burning incidences of males? There are dual answers to these questions. Our society in general is a hypocritical one. When a female marries someone younger than her she is criticized, but when a man marries someone younger than his own daughter, no one even blinks an eye. When women marry late due to family responsibilities, she is taunted but when a male does the same, he is lauded for it. Men can do anything, they are protected, not criticized and left alone eventually. But if a female commits a mistake, she has to face it throughout her life. However, an important aspect of the answer is that women are considerate, compassionate and forgiving in nature. They are emotionally far more empowered than men can even imagine. We need to recognise the intrinsic strength and resilience of women and built upon it. The rural and urban divide in our society is very strong; rural women have their own strengths and urban women have their own. Therefore, before making policies, an in depth participatory study needs to be conducted to understand the exact nature and requirement of the empowerment process Agreed, that women should be empowered for their own sake and not for some social or developmental purpose. Agreed, that there is a lot of room for improvement in the condition of women in our society. Yet for the very same reason, we need to understand very basic aspects of the empowerment debate. Empowerment is a subjective phenomenon and needs to be defined in local perspective before policy making begins. We belong to a society where men are equally or even more disempowered as compared to our women, therefore we need to empower our people taking a holistic approach. Islamic principles of empowerment for a society are well defined and well suited for our particular needs; therefore we should research and alter them to fit our own situation. We need to recognize the intrinsic strength and resilience of women and built upon it. The rural and urban divide in our society is very strong, rural women have their own strengths and urban women have their own. Therefore, before making policies an in depth participatory study needs to be conducted to understand the exact nature and requirement of the empowerment process. After understanding these basic principles we can empower females like Sajida and others around them. The writer has a PhD in Economics from NCBAE, Lahore. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, October 6th 2018.