With unwavering passion in her heart, a warrior’s spirit and just a phone in hand to shoot things on, 25 years’ old Anita Jalil is Gwadar’s first female vlogger.
As she ambles through the streets of the coastal city of Balochistan, Anita silences her opponents every single time she uploads a video, as a challenge to Balochistan's sweeping conservatism where women are relegated to their households only.
Her journey is profoundly inspiring and tells a distinct story – one of great courage and diligence, like an imperishable tale of rising against oppression, of pursuing one’s passion despite all obstacles.
At a time when the internet is crammed with a horde of blogs everywhere, Anita’s YouTube channel is a unique one that comes as a symbol of great heroism.
Uploading her first video some two months back only, Anita narrates how it took almost three years to convince her father to let her become a YouTube blogger.
“Coming from a family that forbids women to foray beyond the confines of four walls, it took almost three long years to convince my father regarding what I aspired to pursue as a career option. In these years, there came many instances where I felt I could go on no longer. My father would at times become highly upset with me and would stop talking. However, I would just not give up. I would not eat for two nights straight, however, every morning I would wake up with a renewed sense of vigour in my heart. I would show examples to my dad, of women who have done wonders in various fields despite odd circumstances, of empowered females who made a name for themselves irrespective of their backgrounds,” the young lady said while talking to The News.
Anita shared that her aim lies in projecting the real image of Gwadar, different from the one that is showcased by the mainstream media.
“I often come across people who think Gwadar has developed to such an extent that it almost looks like Dubai or Singapore. These people get quite shocked when they see that small, shabby houses also exist here. This is the reason why I want a truer picture of Gwadar to be presented – an aspect that is highly resonant in my videos,” stated Anita.
Talking about who made her start documenting videos, Anita shared it was bloggers like DK Baluch and Chiragh Baloch hailing from Balochistan who acted as a source of inspiration for her, leading to the launch of her own YouTube channel that goes by the name of 'Anita Jalil'.
“I shared this idea with Chiragh Baloch who is a blogger too. I was greatly inspired by him and was a fan. He gave me some basic guidelines related to blogging and the rest is history. Today, I have more subscribers than Chiragh himself,” a very jubilant Anita shared.
She continued to state, “I belong to a community that adheres to strict Balochi norms and values, where if even a picture of a woman is shared outside her immediate family, it becomes a huge deal. In my family, women are not allowed to go out and earn. I am the first woman in my family to pursue my dreams despite stern cultural norms that exclude women from every front and strip them off any right. But I was headstrong from the start. I even worked in Dubai for two years as a teacher and lived there alone.”
But what really caused her to start vlogging is her return to Gwadar from Dubai on her mother’s demise as she thought there is a deficit of activities in the city that would keep her interested, she added.
Not having adequate resources; a professional camera or even a laptop to use for editing her videos, Anita’s only weapon is her relentless resolve and untiring grit.
“I don’t have access to a laptop. I borrow it from different people whenever it is time to edit my videos. However, even this limitation has not stopped me from doing what I love.”
Being a trained theatre artist and a budding filmmaker, Anita often receives death threats.
“I get death threats from people because a career-oriented, empowered woman is always perceived as a threat to our patriarchal society. Even this will never come in my way of achieving my dreams. I am a woman who’s not shy of possessing a voice. I organised Balochistan’s first ever all-female rally this past Independence Day in order to encourage more women like me and I am very proud of what I’ve done,” Anita asserted.
Despite promises of gender equality in the society, Anita believes there is still a long way off before we start treating our women equally as men.
“I don’t think there has been much change in the way our society treats women. We say boys and girls are entitled to the same rights; however that is not the case in reality, especially in my community. That being said, I think women should be strong enough to convince their family to let them do whatever they like. Never give up is what I feel women should internalise as a principle,” she shared.
Shedding light on how significant it is for a girl like Anita to come to the forefront in a society that is highly regressive, President-Gwadar Press Club Behram Baloch, believes it is a good initiative that could pave way for future female bloggers too.
"Earlier, we have had several women who wrote blogs, articles and still do. However, Anita is the first woman from Balochistan to document and upload videos. I think it is a nice step forward that would present things from a woman's perspective, highlighting their issues as well as the society's. With this we can hope that there will be change in Balochistan soon."
A torchbearer of empowerment for many young women, Anita asserts nothing is impossible if you just put your heart, mind and soul to it. In the coming future, Anita plans on becoming an entrepreneur and continuing to produce content that depicts the 'unseen parts of Gwadar'.