Women’s Equality Begins at McDonald’s

You just started a job working at McDonald’s.  Your family no longer speaks to you because of it.  Your own brother berates you, physically abuses you by slapping you across the face and threatening to break your legs if you continue to work at the fast food restaurant.  Once there, you often spend more time enduring vicious comments from your customers, disgusted that a woman is working behind the counter.  On the bus ride home, you are again harassed and your own neighbors consider you filth.  At the end of the week, your $100 salary is given over to your father.

This is a day in the life of the women in Pakistan who work outside the home.  According to a New York Times article, women breaking out of the traditional role is due to need, but for Rabia Sultana, who the article profiles, she seems to be hoping for something more.

According to the story, “If I leave this job, everything would be O.K. at home,” Ms. Sultana said. “But then there’d be a huge impact on our house. I want to make something of myself, and for my sisters, who are at home and don’t know anything about the outside world.”

In America, the simple act of excoriating a fast food worker and holding up the line would bring rebuke from other customers who could care less about your convictions and more about their stomachs and their short lunch hours.  Few can imagine work at McDonald’s bringing enlightenment or even being a catalyst to social change.  It’s a parable, a story of the woman seeking freedom, hoping to break from the chains of tradition and finding it in the most simple of places.

Of course, few businesses buck hardliners and traditionalists.  Perhaps only worldwide giants like McDonald’s and KFC are the only ones big enough to take a stand.  One local businessman in the article claimed he didn’t want to hire “the other gender” citing separate changing rooms, blah, blah, blah, but it is most certainly fear of reprisals or his own beliefs.  Even with their new found freedom, young women are as naive in Pakistan as they are here in the U.S.

One girl believes an attempted abduction is due to her smile.  Another says she knows now not to trust everything her husband tells her (would love more background on this revelation and how she came to have it).

While every woman cheers the ability of our fellow GIRLFRIENDS to be free, the next step is to hold on to their pay.  It’s ironic that the story quotes a woman as saying she and others are envied because they have become “the men of the house, and that feels good.”

If she can only find a way to hold onto her earnings, this parable would be complete, because in any story, the one with all the gold wins.