Pakistan can be a dangerous place if you don't fit in. You're not going to fit in if you're in the wrong branch of Islam in the wrong place (Sunni in a Shiite region and vice versa) and in Three Cups of Tea, you probably won't fit in if you're a woman, no matter what your beliefs are. Women are basically seen as inferior in many parts of the country, and are simply used as commodities: wives, mothers, dishwashers.
Greg Mortenson is building schools to educate all of Pakistan's children, but he especially wants to educate the young girls in these remote regions. Simply by being women in a land of fundamentalist Islam, they're at a disadvantage in life. And yet, you may note, that women all play peripheral parts in this narrative—and are often (and repeatedly) introduced by their hair color. Huh.
Questions About Women
- Why does Mortenson focus his efforts on educating girls?
- By focusing on educating girls simply because they're girls, does Mortenson also use them as a commodity, just in a different way than their own culture does?
- Think of some of the stories in the book, like Jahan's, in which girls pursue their education. Why are they so motivated?
- How do the village women's attitudes toward Mortenson change over the course of the book? Why do they change?
Chew on This
By receiving an education at a young age, the girls of Pakistan can grow up to be women who will continue fighting for their own rights and the rights of other women in their country.
Not all the women in Pakistan are stuck in the ways of fundamentalist Islam. It seems that the women of more modern men, (such as Haji Ali's wife) are more progressive than others.