Close this search box.


Close this search box.

Aurat Azadi March urges state to address question of gender, women empowerment

HYDERABAD: Young girls, students, women peasants and rights activists celebrated the International Women’s Day on Monday in the city by staging Aurat Azadi March from Thandi Sarak to local press club.

Women and young girls recited poetry, danced and staged theatre outside the press club interspersing the celebrations with slogans of “barabari sarasari, asee ghuru ta etri, hik azad fard jetri”, “aurat dushman har dastoor, na-manzoor” and “aaee, aurat aae”.

Women from different areas of Hyderabad and other districts carrying aloft portraits of rights activist Asma Jehangir and placards inscribed with pro-women slogans participated in the march.

Women Action Forum (WAF) representatives Arfana Mallah, Amar Sindhu and Haseen Musarrat, who were driving force behind the event, Gulbadan Javed, Bakhtawar Jam, Farzana Buriro, Aliya Bukhshal, HRCP coordinator Imdad Chandio, Jami Chandio, Taj Joyo and others led the march.

A stage theatre by young activists — girls and boys — of Indus Resource Centre was perhaps main highlight of the event. The artists depicted issues of gender discrimination, domestic violence, patriarchal approach and harassment at workplace.

The leaders said that women demanded equal opportunity at all levels in society and wanted state to ensure it. Towards the end of the programme, they read out declaration of the march.

Question of gender

The declaration addressed issues of political, educational, gender rights; social and legal protection; end to use of violence against women; rights of minorities; peace.

It urged state to address question of gender and launch awareness programmes for mental health so that relief could be provided to women.

It demanded special security allowance for people in compensation for social, physical and economic exploitation caused by Covid-19 pandemic and called for women-specific legislation for those working in informal sectors.

It sought regularisation of services of contractual employee and rights for farm workers at par with industrial labour and implementation of minimum wage law.

It said that land reforms should be introduced and land be given to women peasantry, water supply should be ensured to women in rural areas for agriculture and domestic purposes.

The declaration said that nutritional needs of women in drought-hit Thar or other regions should be met, industrial status be accorded to women working in informal sector and skilled labourers should be provided job opportunities.

Equal representation should be given to female peasantry in political parties and forums considering population of women in Pakistan’s total population, equal representation of women peasantry and labourers be ensured on reserved seats in constitutional and political forums.

It opposed privatisation of health and education sectors and said defence expenditures should be cut and the same be diverted to health and education sectors. Syllabus in varsities should be gender-sensitive, democratic, secular and political.

It demanded increase in number of hostels so that more rural girls could seek higher education in cities and friendly environment be created in existing hostels by doing away with undeclared curfew and ensuring protection. Separate transport be launched for girls in educational institutions and scholarship be given to them.

The declaration condemned anti-encroachment drive leading to demolition of slums, labour colonies be built for labourers and said villages should be registered to avoid displacement of population.

It called for enactment of Sindh Domestic Workers Act to protect rights of women working as housemaids so that they received minimum wages. Safe houses be built at district level for women in distress, Transgender Personal Act 2018 should be implemented and quota should be fixed for them in educational institutions besides provision of jobs.

Zia era’s laws based on gender discrimination be abolished and Council of Islamic Ideology and Federal Shariat Court be wound up as such forums “strengthened patriarchal society”, it said.

It demanded release of missing persons and said National Commission on Status of Women should determine matrimonial status of wives of missing persons through legislation and education of their children be ensured along with stipend and share in inheritance.

It opposed system that runs parallel to judicial system outside courts and appreciated ban on jirga system. Construction of dams should be stopped in Sindh that threatened environment, rights of fishermen over islands be recognised and separate parks be built for women.

The declaration aspired for violence-free society in and outside homes to rid women of patriarchal control and demanded that domestic violence be termed crime under legislation and sexual assault should be made non-bailable offence, separate courts to try offences against women be set up, performance of organisations dealing with children and transgender matters should be improved to end violence against them and public transport for rural women be plied.

The declaration called for amendments to marriage act of religious minorities to provide legal protection to their females, Child Marriage Restraint Act should be adhered to in cases of love marriages involving minorities’ girls.

Instead of seminary’s certificate age certificate should be made part of judicial proceedings mandatorily and legislation be done to address conversion in court marriages among minorities.

It said Balochistan issue be addressed politically, political differences be settled through dialogue and people of Indian occupied Kashmir be allowed to exercise right to self-determination.

Rally for women in SU

A rally was taken out in Sindh University Jamshoro to mark the International Women’s Day under the aegis of Institute of Gender Studies.

SU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Mohammad Siddique Kalhoro and director of the institute Dr Misbah Bibi led the rally and said liberation of women came from socio-economic and gender emancipation. “We will be organising seminars and symposiums from time to time and invite female students to lead and participate in poster, essay writing, short story, debate, street theatre, and skits based on women,” said the VC.

All Pakistan Wapda Hydro Electric Workers Union organised ‘huqooq-i-niswan’ conference at which Salma Qazi, Shabnam Khanzada and others said that Islam gave several rights to women, otherwise women had no status at all in society.

They disapproved slogan of ‘mera jism meri marzi’ which they said was a product of women inspired by Western ideas.

Newspaper: Dawn , The News