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March 6, 2020

Aurat March organisers demand gender justice

Lahore

March 6, 2020

LAHORE The Aurat March 2020 put forward the demands in their manifesto and reiterate their commitment towards continuing the struggle for gender justice in a press conference held at the Lahore Press Club Friday.

The marchers stated their aim to publicly raise voice against the exclusion of women and gender minorities from public life and their repression in the private sphere. They reminded the journalists present that they were looking to “celebrate International Working Women’s Day like generations of Pakistani women before” them.

The march organisers explained how they had held marches and engaged in pro-Kashmir activism after the valley was under lockdown in response to a question by a journalist on what they had done for those suffering in Kashmir.

“We issued condemnations of state brutality and raised our voices in support of our Kashmiri brethren,” said Shmyla Khan, one of the Aurat March organisers. As the press conference came to its conclusion a heated debate was started again on the controversial placard that takes on the issue of bodily autonomy. The organisers reiterated that understanding bodily autonomy was important for a society to get rid of violence.

The march will take place on March 8 as planned to mark the International Day of Working Women. empowerment: In Pakistan, there are laws to cover every segment of society but implementation mechanisms are absent. To implement the laws government needs to allocate budget. Only then will it be possible to empower women.

These views were expressed by speakers from different fields at a panel discussion organised by Search for Justice on women’s rights and legal help available to them. A youth engagement workshop at Girl Guides Association’s premises on Thursday brought together people from a cross-section of society, including parliamentarians, lawyers, representatives of government organisations for development and protection of women and UN Women and of NGOs working for women’s rights apart from a large number of girl guides.

Among those who spoke on the occasion were Minister for Human Rights and Minority Affairs Ijaz Alam Augustine, MPAs Uzma Kardar, Sadia Sohail Rana, Shamsa Ali, Kaneez Fatima, head of Women Protection Authority, Ayesha Jawad head of law school at Kinnaird, UN Women head of Punjab office Hafsa Mazhar Siddiqui, Humaira Sheikh Director Shirkat Gah, senior analyst Salman Abid, Advocate Shamim Malik Secretary SCBA, Inayatullah Lak, Acting Secretary Punjab Assembly and Kashish Haider Leghari who has done a study of 100 children. Ijaz Alam said that girls from minorities need protection under law. MPA Uzma Kardar sees the only way to progress is coming into the country’s workforce, Sadia Sohail Rana warned not to pitch women against men and stressed on the necessity of inclusion of women into decision making, Humaira Sheikh said ‘Mera jism, meri marzi’ means ‘nobody touch us without our consent’ and there is nothing wrong about it. Inayatullah Lak pointed out that female parliamentarians are working more as during his 33 years service in the Punjab Assembly 30 private member bills were tabled, 20 by Hina Butt alone. Shamim Malik said, inheritance laws are there to protect women but they have to file an FIR to get their right.

The key is to ‘speak out’, many speakers stressed. The first step is to speak for your right and then others come along. “If you don’t speak for yourself, nobody will,” said Fatima who heads VAW Centre.