Warm your own food. This slogan seen at the first Aurat March held on International Women’s Day last year went viral all over the internet. And for all the wrong reasons. The participant who was seen carrying the slogan ended up receiving criticism, and even death threats, from men and women both. While the message of the slogan resounded with some and angered many, it managed to spread the message of the Aurat March, and subsequently Women’s Day like wildfire. The march saw women from all backgrounds and organisations coming together to demand fundamental rights of women such as access to education and healthcare, an end to gendered violence and equal economic representation amongst others.
This year, the Aurat March took place in Karachi, as well as Lahore, Faisalabad, Larkana and Hyderabad. The manifesto expanded to demanding better working conditions for women such as the implementation of the Sexual Harassment Against Women in the Workplace Act 2010, as well as recognition for the unpaid labour of women. The manifesto this year is more inclusive as it demands access to clean water, animal rights and an end to toxic masculinity. Women’s Day was also celebrated across the country, with the Prime Minister paying tribute to Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah’s struggle alongside the Quaid, and avowing to create a safe working space for women across the country. Furthermore, the Senate chairman honoured the day by asking Krishna Kumari, the first Hindu Dalit senator of Pakistan, to chair the session yesterday.
Seeing the statements given in support of women’s rights to mark the day, one feels hopeful that times will change for women across the country. However, despite all these gestures, we are still to see the day when male politicians do not pass sexist and deriding comments at their female counterparts and women are not killed for the honour of their families.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2019.
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