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March 6, 2020

Women, civil society groups announce separate rally on March 8

Karachi

March 6, 2020

Apparently in a bid to maintain some distance from the much-hyped Aurat March on the International Women’s Day on Sunday, leaders of various women, labour and civil society groups on Thursday announced a separate women rally in the city on the same day.

Various speakers, including Zehra Khan of the Home-Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF), Nuzhat Shirin of the Sindh Commission on the Status of Women, Nasira Perveen of the All Sindh Lady Health Worker Employees Association, Saeeda Khatoon of the Association of Baldia Factory Fire Affectees, rights activist Sadia Baloch, Saira Feroze of the United Home-based Garment Workers Union, writer Hani Baloch, student leader Elsa Kazi, Karamat Ali of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, Asad Iqbal Butt of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and Comrade Zubair of the Awami Action Committee, addressed a joint press conference at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) where they said they would together organise a procession of women workers on Sunday that would move from the Arts Council of Pakistan to the KPC.

Zehra said March 8 is celebrated across the world to pay homage to the heroic struggle of women workers. “Women in the whole world on this day raise voice for their equal social and economic rights and gender justice,” she said.

Speakers said it was sad that reactionary and undemocratic forces, who were afraid of awareness in women, had started a hate-based negative propaganda against women. “These elements do not want to see progress and empowerment of women in society,” Zehra said. She added that ‘anti-women groups’ had started to threaten International Women’s Day’s activities with the use of force. “In some districts, local administrations are also refusing to give permission to women marches on the pretext of [precautions against] coronavirus spread,” she said.

The speakers also appreciated that the Lahore High Court’s recent judgment that accepted this right of women. They said the basic objective of staging the women workers rally was to struggle for making a society that was free of economic and gender exploitation, and male supremacy. The march would also highlight the demand that women’s liberty and economic independence be accepted and gender- based wage difference and harassment of women workers at workplaces be stopped.

The speakers said leaders of the HBWWF were receiving direct and indirect threats and being asked not to organise programmes on March 8. They said they had already communicated to the relevant authorities about those threats.

They announced that despite all such threats, thousands of women would hold programmes on March 8 and later would participate in their rally. In this rally, Hari women, glass bangle women workers, home-based women workers, lady health workers, teachers, students and women belonging to other walks of life would actively participate along with male

workers, the speakers said.

They also condemned the anti-women remarks of drama writer Khalilur Rehman Qamar and demanded that the media houses ban his programmes.