Billboards - a brilliant way to advertise ideas, mindsets, and personal beliefs to the masses. With the entirety of society as their target audience, the message is surely conveyed. These billboards can sell a number of ideologies and one of the most recent ones is: woman empowerment.

Women empowerment is the appropriation of the feminist philosophy, allowing for the full participation of women in all economic and social sectors of society. Women empowerment calls for equal creation of opportunities for both genders in terms of education and work, and is not limited to the choosing of our desired scrub (thank you Nail Bar). Lahore itself is filled with senseless billboards ensuring “women empowerment” in the minutest way possible, and yet the cases of violence against women continue to increase. So, what are these billboards doing?

Billboards are mastering the art of illusion; these billboards make it seem as if our society has truly reached a point where men and women are truly equal in their respective households. The thought of living in a dysfunctional society doesn’t occur to the male counterpart of his family when he raises his hand against his wife, or when he refuses to send his daughter to an educational institute although he has just arrived from paying his son’s school fee. These pathetic billboards give us the illusion that we will in a utopian society – free of any moral corruption. However, it could not be any more inaccurate.

According to the Human Rights Watch Report 2017, an estimated of 1,000 honour killings take place every year. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reports a total of 2,246 cases of domestic violence against women, and 6,179 cases of sexual violence, dating from 2004-2017. These are only the statistics of reported cases, whereas most cases of abuse and violence go unreported and greatly unnoticed. Women empowerment will never be achieved through billboards, and media outlets. The true eradication of the structural system of patriarchy is through education, and accountability of male figures in the household. Because these males can justify their immoral behaviour, nothing is done to change it because they simply “are not in the wrong.” Absurd behaviour of a male is defended because he is only doing what is best for the family, and no other family member can challenge his actions. Accountability of these actions through the legal system, and education between the right and wrongs of society is necessary to ensure the safety of women both in the present-day and future.