Massive women rally marking IWD voices for equal access to socio-economic rights
KARACHI: Thousands of women, gender queer and trans-members of society thronged streets of Karachi to mark Women’s International Day (IWD) on Friday.
Participants raised voice against persistent gender-based inequality and discrimination under collective platform of Aurat March 2019.
March held at Frere Hall kicked off with a dance performance by activist Sheema Kirmani, founder of women’s organisation, Tehreek-e-Niswan and had performances by famed folk singer Sanam Marvi and Nirmala Vakhani who had travelled all way from Umerkot to Karachi just to be a part of March.
Aurat March is a movement led by women, aiming primarily to put them on pedestal of revolution as they stand up to face oppression and highly dogmatic system of patriarchy that exists in our society.
Calling women hailing from diverse backgrounds irrespective of their economic, ethnic and religious affiliations, ground-breaking March had a plethora of revolutionary speeches, recitals and music and dance performances with a women-centric rally as centre-piece.
Highlighting purpose behind holding historic rally, Sheema Kirmani said, “Our issues remain same today. We have organised this March to raise our voice against gender violence, sexual harassment, social norms and gender roles that oppress women from getting access to educational, health, employment opportunities and rights. We are contending to create a just society that does not discriminate against women and exploit them.”
March also brought to forefront women rights’ advocates and volunteers behind eminent non-governmental organisations to bring to limelight lifelong struggle behind fighting for equal rights.
Aurat March also brought out notable celebrities and personalities from entertainment industry, including filmmaker Jami, actor Adnan Malik, singer Rachel Viccaji and comedian Ali Gul Pir.
“When we talk about women’s day, we should remember that it is a day about freedom for all female members of society. We take this opportunity to assert that women are also subjected to certain rights,” an attendee of March shared.
Not just women, but a large number of men also came forth voicing support for women at Aurat March.
“I think Aurat March is one-of-its-kind event which is important for political mobilisation. It’s significant for men and women to come here and march for equality because I think it’s high time that men understand kind of issues that women face and march together with them,” said Faizan, a young boy hoping to see change through March.
Meanwhile, it was heart-warming to see women tourists visiting Pakistan from abroad advocating for equal rights for their Pakistani counterparts.
Wendy from Belgium for instance, who’s been visiting Pakistan for past ten years felt it was vital for women belonging to other countries to stand in solidarity with Pakistani women.
“It’s my first Aurat March here and it’s wonderful to be here surrounded by so many women mostly but men as well who are here to march for equal rights. I hope one day the women of Pakistan will have as much rights in public space as I have in my country and that is why I am here marching,” she maintained.
The manifesto put forth by March demanded safer workplaces, economic justice and ownership of public spaces amongst participation of Christian and Hindu women who voiced concerns against forceful conversions and anti-encroachment drives respectively.
March ended with a symbolic funeral of patriarchy in midst of rally that saw men, women, transgenders and other gender non-binary community members celebrating their freedom together.