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March 7, 2021

Fight for rights gains momentum ahead of Int’l Women’s Day

March 7, 2021

KARACHI: Although the organisers of the Aurat March (Women March) have planned to hold a sit-in at the Frere Hall in Karachi on Monday (tomorrow) to mark International Women’s Day, different events related to the international day kicked off in the city on Saturday.

International Women’s Day is celebrated all across the globe every year on March 8. In Karachi too, dozens of programmes are held every year with the main objective of spreading awareness of women’s rights in society.

15-point agenda

The organisers of the Aurat March announced that this year a sit-in will be held at the Frere Hall on March 8. They warned of extending their protest if the government failed to meet the demands listed in the 15-point agenda of the Aurat March within the stipulated time frame.

Addressing a news conference at the Karachi Press Club on Friday, Tehrik-e-Niswan founder Sheema Kirmani, who is a renowned classical dancer and a member of the organising committee of the Aurat March, demanded that the government effectively implement the laws formulated for the protection of women.

Among the key demands of the Aurat March are putting an end to forced conversions, deploying women and transgender persons at police stations, establishing desks to facilitate women and transgender persons at police stations and in courts, and increasing the number of female medico-legal officers.

They urged the Sindh government to pass the proposed bill against forced conversions into law and to enforce the Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010.

They demanded the inclusion of representatives of feminists and transgender organisations in federal and national standing committees, the implementation of the state’s obligations under the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2018, and the protection of the transgender community in Sindh.

The Aurat March demanded that shelter houses be established for women, transgender persons and non-binary people. They also demanded that child protection centres be set up.

Women Conference

The 2nd Women Conference kicked off at the Arts Council of Pakistan in Karachi on Saturday. Being held in connection with International Women’s Day, the two-day event will conclude on Sunday (today).

Noor Zaheer, a noted writer from India and daughter of the Marxist intellectual Syed Sajjad Zaheer, said while addressing the programme over the internet that holding women’s conferences is important to discuss women-related issues.

“We will continue shouting slogans until our words are heeded,” she said. She pointed out that countries headed by women fought harder and better against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Eminent Pakistani writer Noor-ul-Huda Shah said while referring to the Aurat March that a group of women had raised their concerns regarding their rights differently last year by shouting slogans like ‘Mera Jism, Meri Marzi’ (my body, my will).

“The slogan became a matter of honour. I have not been a part of any feminist movement, but the way men reacted to this slogan turned me into a feminist.”

She said that in a society where women continue to produce children like machines, when misunderstandings are created against rights, this is what happens when the slogan is raised that the protector of a woman’s body is a man.

Renowned writer Kishwar Naheed recited her poem titled ‘Sinful Women’, while leading Indian actor Shabana Azmi congratulated the 2nd Women Conference via a video message.

During a session, speakers, including known women rights activists Sheema Kermani, Mahnaz Rahman, Malika Khan, Shahnaz Rahu and Hani Baloch, discussed the topic of ‘My Life is My Choice’.

In a session titled ‘Economic Empowerment of Women’ that was chaired by Huri Noorani, Kazim Saeed briefed the participants about the economic empowerment of women. Various performances by women were also arranged for the programme.

Awareness walk

The Jamaat-e-Islami announced during an event on Saturday that the party’s women wing will hold an awareness walk outside the Karachi Press Club tomorrow in connection with International Women’s Day.

JI Women Wing had organised a seminar titled ‘Women and Family-ism’ at a local hotel. The party’s Karachi chief Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rehman, Women Wing General Secretary Durdana Siddiqui, former MNA Samia Raheel Qazi and other leaders spoke at the event.

They said that steps should be taken to avoid the use of women in media and TV plays. Durdana said: “We strongly oppose the use of women for promoting commercial products in the media, as this act is tantamount to disgracing womenfolk.”

She invited the attention of saner elements of society for the rectification of such mindsets in order to protect the dignity of women, while Samia asked that the rights that Islam provides women should be implemented in culture and society.

She said that even today there are traditions that are insensitive towards women. “We strongly condemn the traditions such as the concept of marriage to the Holy Quran.”

Jazba project

To ensure women’s participation in politics, two civil society groups — the South Asia Partnership Pakistan and the Aurat Foundation — on Saturday announced starting the Jamhuriat Aur Baikhtiar Aurat (Jazba) project.

The project aims at improving the participation of women, minorities, people with disabilities and transgender persons in democratic and political processes by influencing supply and demand sides of governance.