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March 8, 2020

Getting there one step at a time

Islamabad

March 8, 2020

Today the world is marking International Women’s Day– ‘a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.’ International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. It is a collective day of global celebration and fighting for economic, reproductive, and environmental justice.

According to the United Nations Women, the theme for International Women's Day 2020 is, “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights”. The initiative is aimed at gender equality, a greater awareness of discrimination and a celebration of women's achievements.

Some key targets of the Aurat Azadi March manifesto which they have spelled out are to ensure that all girls have equal access to quality education; end all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere; eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation and eliminate all other harmful practices, such as early and forced marriage and other draconian practices The full manifesto revolves around ‘Khud Mukhtari’ or the independence of women and can be found online.

Though gender parity is not yet a reality – especially in this part of the world - despite the different movements that have been initiated, we do have something to celebrate today with the present government taking some positive steps for women’s empowerment, much against the wishes of the religious right – but sad to say supporting the Azadi March with ‘some reservations’ - unlike another popular political party now confined mostly to Sindh which has given wholehearted support to it and the movement for gender equality as a whole.

So along with the pledge for parity, we have to work hard to make sure that naysayers do not prevail in pressurizing the present dispensation to undo what has been done. Hopefully, with so many programmes planned around the country that will elaborate on the theme, the day will end with more hope and determination to fight the good fight and make the somewhat distant dream come true, if not for us then the next generation. Wishing all women a happy and successful day and hoping all goes well in their fight for freedom.