By: Nighat Dad
LAHORE: International Women’s Day 2018 was marked by the Aurat March Lahore that brought together individuals and collectives from across Lahore to march in solidarity to women’s rights and the feminist movement in Pakistan. Similar marches were also conducted in Islamabad and Karachi.
The march commenced from Hamdard Hall, Lytton Road, for a 2.5 kilometer walk to Charing Cross, Mall Road. Attendance was in the hundreds as the zealous participants of the march raised slogans, carried a kaleidoscope of messages and walked in unison with their heads held high and spirits higher. Special tributes were paid to Asma Jahangir for her inimitable contributions to society and the legacy she left behind.
The agenda of this march was to demand resources and dignity for women, for transgender community, for religious minorities and for those on the economic margins but more importantly to recognize that women’s liberation is inherently linked with the liberation of all oppressed groups and minorities.
These demands include, but are not limited to, an end to violence against women, labour rights, reproductive rights, environmental justice, anti-sexual assault laws, wage equality, fair political representation and opportunities, education equality, equality for the transgender community and an end to child marriage and honour killings.
We would like to highlight the struggles against land grabs/eviction of tenant farmers, ensuring food security for the masses, urban planning that centers ordinary people rather than security narratives, ending enforced disappearances.
The aim of the Aurat March Lahore was to try and build a movement that centers class and gender oppression. We believe that fundamental redistribution of economic and social power and resources at the societal level needs to occur so that an entire class of women like our bonded labourers, our domestic workers, our home based workers, our agriculture and factory workers and also our sex workers are liberated from the confines of this Feudo-capitalist-patriarchal system.
Where the concerns of working women, transgender women, women students of government universities, and women who are excluded because they dare to challenge social and economic norms, who face the brunt of societal exclusion and violence are heard loud and clear in our political mobilization.
To ensure that we as Pakistani feminists are part of larger movements at both the local and national level for issues such as respect for women’s work both at home and outside, equal pay, access to affordable public transport and housing, access to public spaces and public office, access to clean drinking water and emancipatory education, access to an ecologically safe environment.
We believe that a different world is possible and this March was a step in that direction. Together we aim to be able to struggle to create a society where we can live with dignity.
We would, in conclusion, like to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who took out these hours from their busy day and lives to join in and showed such tremendous zeal and vigour in furthering what is a fundamental cause for all of us. You dedicated people are the embers that fuel this fire.
Aurat March Lahore
Story first published: 9th March 2018