New Delhi: Women, as well as men, took to the streets of Pakistan in large numbers across the country to participate in Aurat March and mark the International Women’s Day. While the first Aurat March took place only in Karachi last year, this year’s protests witnessed people taking to the streets in others cities too, including Lahore, Hyderabad, Faisalabad, Multan and Larkana, Dawn.com reported.
Organisers hoped the Aurat March (women’s march) and Aurat Azadi March (women’s liberation march) would bring much-needed attention to the struggle for women’s reproductive, economic, and social rights around the country. The marchers also spoke against issues such as child marriage, sexual harassment in the workplace, honour killings, limited political representation, wage inequalities etc.
“To solve any problem, we need to make a collective effort,” activist Jalwat Ali said. “We want an organic movement by women demanding equal access to justice and ending discrimination of all kinds.”
A history of women taking to streets in Pakistan
Another activist, Leena Ghani, was quoted as saying that women in the country have a history of taking to the streets, famously during military dictator Zia ul-Haq’s martial law in the 1980s: “Many women before us have paved the way for us. There is a tradition of women being politically progressive in Pakistan.”
Uniting women in Pakistan
“The Aurat March will allow us to display unity with other workers and women,” said Arooma Shahzad, a key campaigner on the new domestic workers’ laws.
Women in the country are also campaigning against discriminatory policies in schools and universities. “Most university hostels have a relationship of mistrust and constant surveillance with women,” says Wafa Asher, 21, a university student in Lahore. “There is over-policing of dress and behaviour and early curfews for women.”