Women march for their rights in Lahore, Multan – 09 Mar 2023

LAHORE: Women and girls from Lahore and Multan on Wednesday marched in their respective cities to mark the International Women`s Day to raise their voice for equal rights and an end to the systemic discrimination against them.

In Lahore, Aurat March participants gathered for their rights and freedom, from the press club at Shimla Hill to Faletti`s Hotel as per the permission granted to them by the district administration.

Entrances to all the roads leading to Shimla Hill and Flaetti`s Hotel were blocked by erecting tents and parking heavy vehicles by the police for the security of the marchers. A number of police officials, including females, were also deputed for their security.

The Aurat March participants also included transgender persons,members of civil society and political parties, lawyers, teachers, health workers and activists of different labour organisations, who werethere to show solidarity with the women on their international day.

The participants were carrying placards and banners inscribedwith slogans for the rights of women that pointing out different issues being faced by women in society.

The march organisers were of theview that the district administration imposed some unjustified conditions to allow the event, which they flouted. One of the conditions was a ban on the participation of transgender community in the Aurat March, which they did not follow, arguing that it was a step to divide the women.

They said the district administration had also directed the organisers to record video of the march and provide it to the officials, adding that they did not do it as it was not their duty.

The marchers also demanded climate justice for the communities vulnerable to natural disasters, besides economic justice for the labourers working in the formal and informal sectors and adequate social protection for them.

`We agitate for equally valuing the unpaid housework by women to the `paid` labour, the regularisation of temporary work and theexpansion of social protection coverage,` a march participant said.

They also demanded security and safety for all women, besides protection of rights of transgender persons, including the right to recognition, equitable access to healthcare, economic and social services, and protection from rampant sexual and gender-based violence, and allocation of resources to curb institutional misgendering and discrimination.

They demanded a mechanism to hold the state institutions accountable through a democratic truth and reconciliation commission and the safety of the marginalised ethnic communities, particularly Pashtun and Baloch populations, instead of surveillance, discriminatory policingand enforced disappearances.

They also sought repeal of the laws used to `silence dissent and target the marginalised communities`, such as sedition offenses and criminal defamation.

In Multan, the the Aurat March participants gathered at Nawanshaher Chowk and marched up to the Multan Press Club.

The participants presented their demands in the Siraiki language, including free education for girls till 16 years of age, equal opportunities for education, formation of committees on sexual harassment in educational institutes, and implementation of sexual harassment rules.

They demanded restoration of student unions, implementation of the minimum wages for women, protection of house workers, enforcement of Transgender Persons Act 2018 and implementation of the Women Protection Bill.

They also sought establishment of health centres for women, employment opportunities, increase in the number of women judges in the Lahore High Court`s Multan and Bahawalpur benches, social protection for women affected by floods, and protection of children against sexual violence.

Their demands also include internet facility to women everywhere, update of curriculum as per international standards.

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