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March 9, 2021

Civil society representatives hold rallies, seminars, marches

Islamabad

March 9, 2021

Islamabad:Women from mainstream political parties, religious political parties, activists, students and civil society representatives organised a number of rallies, seminars, marches, report launch events and award ceremonies to commemorate International Women Day on Monday.

The day started with celebrations of the achievements of Pakistani women at the presidency and a rally of women leaders under the network of Women Alliance Pakistan in Rawalpindi and ended with gathering of Women March participants at D Chowk and a rally by Jammat-e-Islami in front of National Press Club. Participants of the rallies were holding placards inscribed with slogans of women rights and chanted slogans for women emancipation.

In the morning, women leaders from mainstream political parties, human rights activists, artists, and around 100 other women under the network “Women Alliance Pakistan” gathered at Rawalpindi Press Club to attend Women Leadership Assembly which was followed by a women’s rally. The event was also attended by Christopher Khung, Head of Cooperation, High Commission of Canada.

Speakers included political parties’ representatives such as Tahira Aurengzaib, MNA for PML-N, Abida Munir (PTI) and Sumera Khan, City President (PPPP) who discussed strategies to mainstream women in leadership positions in political parties and legislatures. Others who spoke on the occasion included Rubina Akbar, (PTI), Samina Shoaib, (PML-N), and Azra Younas, ex-councilor (PPPP), Aliya Mirza, poet, artist and activist.

On this occasion, Tahira Abdullah, human rights activist, presented a list of demands. Mumtaz Mughal, Director Programmes of Aurat Foundation, and Naeem Ahmed Mirza, Executive Director, Aurat Foundation, gave an overview of the 2021 International Women’s Day theme – ‘Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 World’ and Razia Sultana, President of the Women Alliance Pakistan gave concluding remarks. The event was followed by a rally.

Christopher Khung, Head of Cooperation, High Commission of Canada, emphasized the need to include men in the struggle for women’s rights and underscored that Pakistan cannot develop if its women are not empowered, stressing the full support of the Canadian government for the women of Pakistan’s struggle for their political rights.

Tahira Abdullah, human rights activist, highlighted the need to recognize that women are human beings and should not be forced to return to homes where they are being abused and that there is a need for feminist trainings of counsellors in local reconciliation and arbitration committees. Naeem Ahmed Mirza underscored how much progress women have made so quickly (in just the last 20 years) and how much more women can do when they are empowered and leaders.

On the other hand, Women March in Islamabad once again was able to attract a large number of men and women especially students despite bad weather and fear of COVID 19. The March culminated at D Chowk. Parallel to it was the ‘Mazboot Khandaan, Mazboor Aurat, Mustehikum Muashra’ rally by Jammat e Islami Women Wing held at the National Press Club. The administration was busy in ensuring peaceful rallies and avoiding any clash. Sometimes, the number of rally participants looked lesser as compared to the police force deputed around the venue.

Under the watchful eyes of administration, the Women March started from National Press Club and ended at the D Chowk where activists made fiery speeches, performed theatre, music and cultural dance to demand women rights and freedom. The most prominent feature of Women March was again the slogans written in creative ways such as ‘Mera Vote Meri Marzi,’ ‘Because daughters are enough,’ ‘I will take revenge of my mother and grandmother,’ ‘Stop telling me what my real issues are’ and ‘Tum Meray Jism Say Dartay Ho,’ etc.

Representatives of Baloch and Hazara community as well as the minority representatives were also among the speakers at Women March. The March was also joined by the representatives of transgender community.