In the 1990s, some years after Benazir Bhutto was sworn in as the first female Prime Minister, my tai jaan was waking up in the wee hours to cook food for the day before her two boys got up. Every morning she rose from her bed to perform the same tasks: get the meals ready and send the children off to school. She also tended to her husband’s demands: on good days- giving him breakfast, and on some particularly bad days, finding his misplaced socks, belt or wallet. She then rode to work, fighting the traffic from Rawalpindi to Islamabad. Each afternoon she left work earlier than the designated closing time to be home for the arrival of her children. Tired and worn, she napped with her children, preparing to dual out the second shift: dinner, bedtime routine and house cleaning. She quietly went about her tasks, not once revealing her dislike and drudgery. And for that, she was the perfect wife and the perfect mother. Not because she carried the double burden of both working inside and outside the home. But because she never said a word: she had sabr. You see, young girls, like my tai once was, have been fooled. We are part of the generation who grew up under the popular slogans: “Education means empowerment” and “To educate a girl means to raise the future.” Our parents sheltered us from performing housework, allowing us to concentrate on getting an education. Heck, we even delayed our marriage to the “undesirable” age of 30 in order to earn our degrees. We were told that economic independence is our one-way ticket to greater decision-making power in the household, specifically allowing us to enjoy serious bargaining-leverage with our spouse. We took these words for their face value. We believed that if we earned our own money, we would not face the same challenges the generation before us faced in their married life. The feminists’ slogans that inspired our generation have had the effect of a double-edged sword . Yes, education and labor-force participation have allowed us to venture out into the world and earn a living. Yet, it has also significantly increased our burden. We have been fooled into giving away our labor to a market where we are merely treated as a supplementary workforce, are increasingly subjected to sexual harassment and are grossly underpaid in comparison to our male counterparts. All the while, many of us still perform free work in the household. On the flip side, men have benefited from women entering the workforce. Not only are their houses kept clean, their children taken care of, but now they no longer bear the burden of being “primary providers” of the household. Countless women continue to give their pay checks to their family in-laws (either directly or indirectly), no questions asked. Much of the work women perform is not considered payable. For instance, a mother will take care of her kids because that is in her nature. Mothering is so normalized that it is not even considered a real job, the cognitive and physical burden of raising children completely ignored. I am by no means advocating for women to stop pursuing an education and to retreat back from the workforce. Because history has documented the kind of horrors that can lead to. However, I am writing today to demand two things from you, dear girl. Firstly, I am asking for you to reject societal expectations that demand women to “do it all”: to get an education, build a career and be the obedient and all-sacrificing wife and mother. Secondly, I am asking you to demand from feminism what is just. While women have entered the workforce in millions, these changes have not gone hand-in-hand with an egalitarian division of housework. Feminism of this order has constructed the image of the hard-working, ambitious and entrepreneurial woman without bringing about any meaningful change in her everyday life. It is time we turn down this feminism and rise up with a “new feminism” that takes account of our whole, complete lives, rather than privileging the parts of our lives that benefit those who pull the strings. Gender equality does not have to mean “doing it all”. As my tai jaan narrated her story to me, I quickly questioned her decision to pursue a job outside the house: “If you didn’t have much of a choice, why didn’t you just leave your work?”. To my surprise she answered: “I wanted to, I could have. But I didn’t”. Her answer perplexed me. But why didn’t she? What prevented her from shouldering both burdens? Didn’t men want you to stay within chador and char dewari (AKA not work, be a housewife)? She explained that before marriage she had briefly considered leaving her job until her mother effectively dissuaded her from quitting: “Maybe the man is marrying you because you can earn money”. It was true. She handed her money to her husband till the day she retired. Day in and day out, she made herself into a superwoman. All to sustain her marriage, at the price of something as valuable as the entire waking hours of her day. My dear girl, don’t let them fool you. You can’t do it all. No one can.