‘Aurat March is not confined to a single slogan’

It raises the voice for women’s independence in all spheres of life, says academic

Fatima Sheikh March 07, 2020
Sheema Kirmani

KARACHI: Referring to the hue and cry over an Aurat March slogan, 'Mera jism, meri marzi', [My body, my choice], Dr Arfana Mallah, a professor at the University of Sindh, Jamshoro, said it did not pertain to just sexual independence but is reflective of women's growing demands to gain independence in life, in general.

"Women are now demanding independence in choosing their roles in the society, whether it is about working professionally or choosing a life partner," she said.

Addressing a session titled 'Meri zindagi, mera ikhtiar' [My life, my authority] at the the first Women Conference at Arts Council on Friday, Mallah said, "Aurat March has been confined to [just] one slogan by a patriarchal society when it [actually] talks about equality."

She said that the movement for women's rights began 400 years ago but society failed to support the movement.

Poet Fatima Hassan pointed out that a woman was expected to assume a certain role in the society, purely based on assumptions, and called for sentisation in this regard.

Women are generally considered, "inferior to men, lacking wisdom, incapable of learning new things and not able enough to legislate," she said, stressing that this perception needed to be changed. She further said that often, men get "frustrated and awkward" when "competent women on same positions earn as much as they do" or, "at home a female family member earns more than them."

Classical dancer and rights activist Sheema Kirmani raised the issue of suppressing the creative potential of women and their being restricted from displaying their talents and skills.

She also talked about the evolution of the women's right movement over the years, saying, "Women started with demands for bread and daily wages and eventually extended the movement to asking for a rose [used as a metaphor for a happy life]."

Kirmani opined that the women's struggle went against the general thought and society's mindset.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2020.


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