By: Bushra Shehzad
LAHORE: The Pakistan Women’s Day was celebrated on Wednesday in commemoration of the events of February 12, 1983.
On February 12, 1983, around a 100 women took out a rally against the injustices of the Zia government. Despite a ban on political activities and demonstrations, these women came out on the streets and raised their voice against the brutal and unjust laws that rescinded the rights of women and religious minorities in Pakistan. South Asia Partnership-Pakistan, Aurat Foundation, Strengthening Participatory Organisation and Saangi Foundation held an event, “Celebrating Pakistani Women’s Day” on the occasion at the Ambassador Hotel, Lahore.
SAP-PK Media Coordinator FarzanaMumtaz said, “Today’s event was to mark the rally that we took out in 1983 and to celebrate the resistance that we as women were able to register to the authorities.” “The rally in 1983 and the subsequent celebration we organise every year is to tell lawmakers and the government that Pakistani citizens, especially women can lead a life of resistance,” she added.
The agenda of this year’s commemoration was to highlight the condition of domestic working women and the need to implement effective laws to protect their rights.
Speakers, Shazia Shaheen (SPO), Mumtaz Mughal (Aurat Foundation), Aima Mehmood (Working Women’s organisations), Bushra Khaliq (WISE) and Shabnum Rasheed (SAP-PK) talked about the plight of domestic women workers. They emphasised on the importance of legislation for the economic and social protection of domestic workers rights and said that most domestic women workers are facing heinous violence, both physical and sexual by their owners or their employers, and are being murdered in some cases with such cases are raising by the day.
A drama was also staged by the forum to highlight domestic violence, rape and the poor condition of working women. The speakers pushed for the implementation of the ILO-Convention 189, which protects and safeguards the rights of working women. They also emphasised the need for a regulatory body and contracts that would help forward the protection of the rights of working women.
Shabnam Rasheed highlighted this need for the registration of domestic workers and emphasised on written contracts between domestic workers and their employers. She also said that there should be a regulatory authority under the local government system which could regulate the functioning of contracts system.
The Women’s Action Forum also held a rally to commemorate Pakistan Women’s Day at Regal Chowk.
The speakers at the rally included Nighat Saeed Khan, Neelam Hussain, Tanveer Jahan and Rehana Taufeeq.
They emphasised the need to make and implement just laws. They discussed various issues of national importance, which inevitably effect women more than any other category of citizens. They spoke against the proposed government talks with the Taliban as they see the activities and policies of the Taliban naturally against the rights of women.
Other important issues that were discussed included the dual system of justice that exists in the country. They said that tribal/jirga laws need to be done away with as they strip women of their basic rights. They emphasised the need for justice and equality for all.
In another event held at the Lahore Press Club, WAF also presented awards to the late poet Habib Jalib and photographer, Azhar Jafri for their contribution to the women’s struggle movement.