ISLAMABAD: An evening of Kathak and theatrical performances by Sheema Kermani marked the end of the first day of the centenary celebrations of International Women’s Day.
The event was organised by “We Can” campaign and hosted at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts in Islamabad. The performance was in conclusion to a literary discourse on two critical documents analysing the state of women in Pakistan.
“Tonight is dedicated to Haleema Bhutto, a victim of karokari (honour killing) who met this fate due to a property dispute,” said Marvi Memon, chief guest at the event. “She has fought for justice and her strength is commendable and gives other women hope that ‘we can’ and will attain justice,” she added.
With Sardar Asseff Ali and other dignitaries in attendance, the auditorium was buzzing with enthusiasm and eagerness to witness the show on violence against women.
Sheema Kermani and her company performed various acts depicting the hardships that women go through in the villages and towns around the country.
A theatrical performance on issues such as bigamy and the distortion of Islamic teachings took place, followed by dance and poetic performances highlighting various identity and social restrictions women face.
Kermani’s performance exuded energy and grace. Her act on a woman accused of being infertile and the lack of freedom of speech and identity were executed rather well.
However on a thematic level, the evening was more or less predictable and not exciting.
As we stumble into the second decade of the 21st century, it is questionable whether one should continue to show the misery and weaknesses of the female race. Several audience members felt International Women’s Day should focus more on women empowerment and ways to achieve it rather than showing the age old issues that have been highlighted time and again.
“The performance was insulting to our intelligence as it lacked tact. The wailing and crying was rather uncomfortable,” said an audience member, “I would much rather see the issue be taken in a new direction. Rather than showing despair and helplessness, performances should show how women can succeed in this day and age.”
It is time that International Women’s Day took a new angle on depicting issues rather than showing sob stories. The day should be used to highlight new avenues the 21st century woman can take to get out of these problems.
Like Neva Humera Khan, country head of Oxfam GB, said, “Pakistan has shown positive paradigm shifts over the past years and ‘We Can’ campaign has achieved 432,000 change makers around the country working towards ending all forms of violence against women and advocating women empowerment.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 2nd, 2011.
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