Women in Pakistan have always been looking for safe spaces and in a male-dominant society like ours it has always been a dream. From streets to parks and even to homes, women have always longed for a sense of security which sadly, they never got from the opposite gender. However, after tolerating patriarchy for ages, the traces of rebellion have showed up, and women have decided to build spaces of their own as a sign of sisterhood.
Fem Fest 2.0, organised by Dialogues at Denning, was an inspiring event that brought together women from diverse backgrounds to celebrate their achievements, share their stories, and discuss issues of gender equality. This annual festival, held recently at Denning Law School in Karachi, serves as a platform to empower women of every race and class by creating a space where they can come together, support each other and inspire change.
Women of all ages and professions participated in panel discussions, workshops, and interactive sessions that focused on a range of topics related to gender equality. The festival provided a safe and inclusive environment where women could share their experiences, discuss their challenges, and learn from each other.
One of the key highlights of the event was the emphasis on intersectionality. It recognised that women from different backgrounds face unique challenges based on their race, ethnicity, religion, class, sexuality, and ability. The festival included a range of perspectives and experiences that highlighted the diversity of the feminist movement and the need for a more inclusive approach to gender equality. The festival also featured keynote speeches and performances by prominent women who have made significant contributions to their respective fields. These women shared their personal journeys and highlighted the importance of persistence, courage, and resilience in the face of obstacles and setbacks. Overall, it was a powerful and empowering event that highlighted the importance of gender equality and the need for women to support each other in their personal and professional lives. It provided a space for women to connect, learn, and grow, and served as a reminder of the strength and resilience of women from all walks of life. By celebrating their achievements and discussing their challenges, the event served as a catalyst for change and a source of inspiration for women everywhere.
Women supporting women
The support group led by Dua Iqbal at Fem Fest 2.0 was a vital component of the festival - focusing on empowering women from all walks of life. Iqbal’s emphasis on women’s wellbeing was particularly poignant in the context of Pakistani society, where women often face brutal experiences and are expected to suppress their trauma.
During the support group, Iqbal provided a safe and supportive environment where women could share their experiences and challenges. Through her expertise, she equipped participants with tools and strategies to help them navigate their day-to-day struggles and build resilience in the face of adversity.
Iqbal’s approach was grounded on the principles of hope and positivity, emphasising the importance of self-care and self-compassion. She encouraged participants to prioritise their wellbeing and to engage in practices that promote physical, emotional and mental health.
The support group was a powerful reminder of the importance of creating spaces where women can come together and support each other. It highlighted the resilience and strength of Pakistani women and the need for continued efforts to promote gender equality and protecting women’s rights.
The panel discussion at Fem Fest 2.0 was a celebration of the strength and resilience of Pakistani women. The panel featured a diverse group of women from different fields who shared their stories of struggle and triumph.
Khushbakht Shah Jillani, the ‘Legal Rockstar’ as referred to by the moderator Zohra Anis, talked about the challenges she faced as a young lawyer in Pakistani society. Her story of resilience and determination in the face of adversity was inspiring and showed how women can overcome even the toughest obstacles with perseverance.
Mantahaa Tareen, a wellness and fitness coach, provided valuable scientific insights into the importance of mental health for women. She emphasised the need for reassurance and support, especially for women who face multiple challenges in their daily lives.
Hafsa Asad shared her experiences from the mountains and her ambitions for the future. Her shining eyes and determination to never give up on her dreams were a testament to the strength and resilience of Pakistani women.
Dr Sana Yasir shed light on the importance of empathy and kindness, especially towards marginalised groups such as intersex people. Her message of compassion and understanding resonated with the audience and highlighted the need for a more inclusive and empathetic society.
Overall, the panel discussion at Fem Fest 2.0 was a powerful showcase of the strength, resilience and determination of Pakistani women. The panellists shared their stories with grace and authenticity, inspiring others to pursue their dreams and never give up in the face of adversity. It was a celebration of women’s achievements and a reminder of the important work that still needs to be done to achieve gender equality in Pakistan.
Lubabah Shaukat, the president of Dialogues at Denning, shared the inspiration behind the creation of the student society and Fem Fest 2.0. “When people see women in leadership position, they tend to underestimate them since women are mostly associated with emotions. I, as a student leader, went through the same thing since I am a very emotional person. When people saw me as a leader, they questioned my skills based on my emotional quotient. However, embracing my emotions, and aiming to strike back at the gender bias, I kept moving forward,” elucidated Shaukat.
“The idea behind Fem Fest 2.0 was to bring together women from different backgrounds and provide them with a platform to share their stories and experiences. The festival aimed to showcase the achievements of women and celebrate their resilience and strength,” she added.
This event was a step towards creating a safer world for women, and empowering them to pursue their dreams and ambitions. By bringing together successful female entrepreneurs and providing a platform for women to share their stories. Shaukat hoped to inspire others and build a more inclusive and empowering community for women in Pakistan along with her very dedicated team including allies like Pareeza Rahmna and Insia Jessani.
Miss Arwa Abdul Qadir, the patron of Dialogue, emphasised the need for safe spaces for women in Pakistan and the role that events like Fem Fest can play in creating such spaces. When asked about establishing a positive relationship with Gen Z students, she spoke about how she appreciates the way this generation thinks and works towards creating a better future.
“As an educationist, I have always aimed to empower my students. I have had my share of struggles in this journey of becoming who I am today, and I always look for opportunities to give to my students. This event is so close to my heart, I have always dreamed of building safer spaces for my own gender, and today as I see all these women together under one roof, it brings me nothing but immense joy. It’s a small step, but we are progressing towards a society which would be safe for us and upcoming generations.”
As the evening progressed, the atmosphere became even more lively and energetic. The Karachi Drum held a drum circle where women came together to enjoy the beats and rhythms of the drums. Laughter and joy were witnessed all around as women let loose and enjoyed the moment.
As night fell, the parking lot was lit up with beautiful lights for a concert by Nimra Rafiq. Women danced and sang along to the music, creating an atmosphere of celebration and happiness. At every corner of the festival, women were seen having the time of their lives, enjoying the food stalls, clothes, aesthetic jewellery and other accessories.
What was truly remarkable about the event was that everything was led by women. From the organisers to the vendors and performers, women were at the forefront of the event, showcasing their talents, creativity, and entrepreneurship. This was a true picture of women empowerment, where women were given the opportunity to shine and showcase their skills and abilities.
The event was a celebration of the strength and resilience of women, and a testament to the power of women coming together to create change and empower one another.
This event was a true representation of women empowerment. It served as a reminder that even in a male-dominated world women can find spaces where they can empower themselves and each other. It was a day filled with conversations, laughter, music, and the power of friendship and solidarity. As the night came to an end, the women left the event feeling empowered, hopeful and ready to take on the world with renewed strength and determination. Fem Fest 2.0 was a true testament to the power of women and their ability to create safe spaces for themselves and for others.