Much has been said and written about womenâ€™s rights, but unfortunately women of our country had to waste their valuable energy and time to explain to people out there this year again why Aurat March is a necessity. Â The march is scheduled to take place today at the occasion of International Womenâ€™s Day at the Frere Hall in Karachi as well as in Lahore.
For those of you who are still living under a rock and think this march is pointless, hereâ€™s what women of Pakistan are fighting for by marching today:
An end to violence and sexual harassment
It a demand for an end to gender-based violence including violence against women, trans and non-binary people by patriarchal forces as well as state-backed violence targeting activists, religious minorities and marginalized communities. The women also demand an end to extrajudicial killings in all parts of Pakistan as well as the increase in womenâ€™s share in law enforcement. For those who are still stuck in vilifying the slogan â€˜mera jismâ€¦meri marziâ€™, bodily autonomy is essential for womenâ€™s safety.
Itâ€™s a demand to control the exploitation of women in formal or informal workplaces; all the industries should be liberated from capitalistic exploitation. It also puts forward the need to implement employment quotas and ensuring a harassment-free work environment.
Letâ€™s just agree on one thing at least: we are against child marriages. The marchâ€™s manifesto also demands that the state amend the minimum age of marriages to at least 16-18 and enforce it. The women and suppressed gender should have total autonomy over their bodies and quality reproductive and sexual health facilities should be made accessible to women.
Apart from women rights, they also demand protection for animal rights, guarantee of clean drinking water and use of renewable energy sources.
Right to the city
Unfortunately, women have to reclaim their right to the city and its public spaces. The city should also serve the needs of marginalized groups and give access to basic services and amenities to all residents. This includes access to electricity, gas, clean water, healthcare, education and safe transport. The march also condemns the citywide demolitions under the banner of â€˜anti-encroachment driveâ€™.
Women are also demanding that the Sindh government urgently pass the bill on forced conversion to protect girls and women from its scourge and take concrete actions to bring perpetrators to justice.
Political participation of women
The march propagates the idea that political participation of women is essential to any democracy and society and the state should carry out affirmative action to ensure womenâ€™s full participation across all levels.
Role of media
The three demands are simple and necessary to ensure unbiased narrative. The first is to end the sexist treatment of women in the media to ensure socially responsible narratives in the form of news reports, political and cultural analyses and storytelling.
The second is fixing the under representation of women in media, who should be encouraged to investigate and report gender-based violence cases to ensure that reporting is nuanced and does not resort to victim blaming.
Lastly, a demand to mandatory training and sensitization on issues related to gender and sexual violence for all journalists.
Women also demand the implementation of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with disabilities and similar provincial acts.
We hope you wake up to see these demands this Sunday and ensure to add your two cents (or slogans) to this march.
- Photography credits: Aurat March’s official Facebook page