Who Controls Your Life?

How much control do you have over your life? It seems that the answer to this question is not a straightforward one for many young people in this country. Take, for example, some research undertaken by the British Council in 2012; their survey of over 5000 18-29 year olds revealed that Pakistani youth are split down the middle on how they rate their level of personal control: 50% considered themselves to have a high level of personal control, and 50% a low level.

Elsewhere, the National Human Development Report (NHDR) 2015 team has conducted informal interviews with university students in Islamabad over the last month, and we heard a similar split at the individual level. As one 21 one year old male commented when discussing choices around marriage and family: “We are independent but independence over here does not mean being totally individual”.

It is an interesting blend. Collectivist and individualistic. Obliged to follow orders and free to choose. But where are you able to choose and where are you not? Is it easier to choose an unexpected and risky career path or pursue a love marriage? And what are the constraints on personal control? Circumstances, family pressure, societal pressure?

Please help us understand this issue better but letting us know how much control you feel you have over your life; who you think has most control and why, and whether you think personal choice is a good thing or not. We would love to hear your thoughts…

Gemma Stevenson, Lead Coordinator, NHDR

20th October 2014

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