By: Kiyya Qadir Baloch
ISLAMABAD/RAWALPINDI: The residents of the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad celebrated the International Women’s Day on Friday.
Various events were organised in the cities to raise awareness of issues relating to gender-based violence and steps to curb this. Aurat Foundation, in collaboration with USAID, celebrated the International Women’s Day by staging a theatre play, “Inspiring Change”, at a hotel in Islamabad under USAID-supported Gender Equity Programme (GEP). The programme was held in connection with a campaign under the Gender Equity Programme (GEP) to highlight women’s issues in Pakistan.
The play lasted for an hour and brought together various survivor of gender based violence. The performance was themed around social mindset that terms domestic violence a private matter. Theatrical performance by GBV survivors was the result of intensive training and rehearsals with GBV survivors conducted by Director Interactive Resource Centre Muhammad Waseem and choreographer Imran Nafees.
“It was like telling our story to the world. We did not have to act,” said Warda, a survivor of acid attack, who performed on the stage for the first time. “I enjoyed doing this play thoroughly. We appreciate the organisers for providing us with this opportunity,” she added. “It took us fifteen days to prepare for this play. The GBV survivors were incredible in all sense. We are also impressed with the level of confidence they have displayed,” said Director Interactive Resource Center Muhammad Waseem. The theatrical performance on IWD provided GBV survivors of Dastak and Acid Survivors Foundation with an opportunity to exhibit their talent besides further rehabilitating them.
At the end, anchorperson Quratulain Ali distributed certificates among the survivors. She said that In Pakistan, GBV is a complex issue and major forms of violence are considered private matter, as it occurs in the family. “When women have confidence in their selves, no one can stop them from perusing their dreams,” she said.
Documentary screened: To celebrate the International Women’s Day Kuch Khaas launched short documentaries by Samar Minallah Khan. The event highlighted the issue of Compensation Marriages in the form of ‘Swara’ Vani’ and ‘Sang Chatti’ and its impact on the lives of women and girls in different parts of Pakistan. Swara or Vani is a form of dispute resolution whereby girls are given as compensation to the enemy’s family to end dispute. The films highlighted individuals that were inspiring change and challenging such traditions that reinforce violence against women and girls.
Her documentary also highlighted ways in which women face oppression from the curse of anti-women practices and forced marriages to sheer poverty, effects of displacement and lack of education opportunities. Samar Minallah Khan is an Anthropologist, and an award winning documentary filmmaker from Pakistan. The media has termed her as the ‘Saviour of Souls’, and ‘The Crusader with the Camera’. For the past decade, she has been challenging jirga, panchayat and faislo decisions where girls are being forced into marriages to end disputes. She has produced a number of documentaries on women, girls and child rights. Her films are being used for advocacy and awareness rising in different parts of Pakistan.
Artwork: A three-day national women-at-work festival opened here at Rawalpindi Arts Council (RAC) on Friday. The event is jointly organized by Rawalpindi Arts Council and DEVCOM – Pakistan (Development Communications Network) to mark international Women’ Day. Senator Najma Hameed and Member National Assembly Tahira Aurangzeb flanked by Naheed Manzoor, Resident Director RAC Waqar Ahmed and Director DEVCOM, Munir Ahmed inaugurated the painting exhibition by 15 women artists and craft bazar. Addressing at the occasion, Senator Najma Hameed said that every day is international day for women. She said our women are playing pivotal role in every walk of life.
Member National Assembly Tahira Aurangzeb said that Islam gave more respect to women than any other religion in the world. Naheed Manzoor said that Pakistani women are not less than women of the world. Craft bazaar consisted of embroidery, jewellery making, doll making, and many other stalls.
Seminar on extremism: A seminar on Pakistani Women fighting Extremism and Violence organized by Pattan Development Organisation was held on Friday in Islamabad. Speakers in the seminar urged the world to support Pakistani women in fight against illiteracy, terrorism and extremism. Speakers speaking on the occasion said that We need political power to ensure that policies and laws would be made and implemented that would lead to real progress and development for all the women in the country. They said that women need political power to ensure their progress and empowerment.
Special ceremony at PBC: A special ceremony in connection with IWD was organized by Radio Pakistan in order to highlight women’s role in national building. Women parliamentarians, educationists, intellectuals, broadcasters, writers, social workers, and eminent women belonging to different walks of life took part in the event and said that Radio Pakistan has been playing an essential role in socio-economic development of the country, particularly in creating awareness about rights of the women.
Women parliamentarians Najma Arshad, Perveen Masood Bhatti, and Shahnaz Salim Malik spoke on the occasion and said radio has proved an engine in bringing about positive change in society, particularly in the lives of womenfolk. Director General Radio Pakistan, Samina Parvez was also present on the occasion while Azra Sajjad, Doctor Samina Nadim, Fauzia Shahid, Tahira Abdullah, Irum Ata, Abida Taqi, Farheen Chaudhry, Nayyar Mehmood, Nayyar Jamal, Kanwal Naseer, Farkhanda Shamim, Asmat Afridi, Samina Waqar, Khadija Nasrin, Nuzhat Yasmeen and others also participated in the event and expressed their views. They hailed the role of Radio Pakistan for educating the people and impart knowledge of different subjects including national language, history, culture, science and technology and other fields.