The travails of the ‘doctor bahu’ are ones that we are well familiar with. Girls study hard and strive for success in their chosen fields. Many of them choose to become doctors. Their hard-earned degrees may draw marriage proposals their way. But once married, sometimes their many responsibilities gives them no choice but to set aside their ambitions and completely commit to family life.
The latest television commercial by Shan Masala touches upon this topic, with a narration that tugs at the heartstrings and leaves the audience – male or female – tearful. Why should a girl be expected to spurn her dreams? Is she bound to serve her family only? It’s an important issue that often doesn’t get highlighted. A TVC like this one acknowledges the unfairness faced by ‘doctor bahus’ – or girls with other professional degrees.
The TVC itself is beautiful. Ushna Shah is the bahu and Saba Faisal her mother-in-law who listens to her daughter-in-law saying her oaths as a freshly graduated doctor and decides to help her in her career. There’s a little baby who stays at her home with his grandmother while the mother goes off to work. And around lunchtime, the doctor bahu gets surprised by her baby and her mother-in-law bringing her freshly cooked food.
It’s a beautiful message – and an apt one. And one that needs to be acknowledged and incorporated into our society. Women should be allowed to pursue their chosen careers. Furthermore, there is a dearth of doctors in Pakistan and this is not because of a shortage of fresh graduates but due to many female doctors being unable to practice because of other responsibilities.
The case of doctor bahus is a single example – working women in all professions across Pakistan are made to feel guilty, as if they are ignoring their duties while trying to build their careers. As the TVC points out, cooking is not a job that should be restricted to a single person in the household and nor is child-rearing. Being a housewife, also, is no easy task and no one choice is better than the other. It is important that however a woman chooses to live her life, it is a decision made of her own free will and she should get the support from her family that she deserves.
This TVC, coming on TV, shared on social media platforms, making you a bit teary-eyed, is a step in the right direction – for doctor bahus, for their families, for the women of Pakistan.