Women’s emancipation – 08 Mar 2023

This year, too, the International Day for Women was not free for ripples

Aurat March since 2018 in Pakistan has become a symbol of women’s empowerment movement. At the same time, it has been in the eye of storm primarily owing to its not-so-specified agenda, apart from being laced with some catchy sloganeering, which has put it at odds with the conventional citizenry who suspect a foreign hand behind it. But the good point is that it has gained credence as the civil society, especially the womenfolk and the neglected sections, see it as a path to seek emancipation of the fairer sex and eulogise its potential in a male-dominated milieu. This is so because the Constitution guarantees equal rights to both genders, and the courts have been intuitively positive to take a stand against bigotry and discrimination.

This year, too, the International Day for Women was not free for ripples. A section of people challenged it in the court of law, calling for a ban on it. Their stated assumption was taboos as many believe such a march by the so-called inferior sex is an attempt to devalue the norms of society. The High Courts in Punjab and Sindh not only ruled against banning the march, but also slapped penalties on petitioners for their mischievous and divisive campaigns. This has, inevitably, helped in establishing the stated principles of law and Constitution, and at the same time ensured the rights of freedom of speech and association.

Today as the Aurat March hits the streets, there is a responsibility on its participants and organisers. Stick to the theme, ‘Feminism in times of crisis’, which is intended to highlight pestering social issues such as food insecurity, violence against women and transgender persons, economic justice, man-made disasters and climate justice. It would not be an overstatement to say that women are more impacted with them, as they are the first line of casualty as they take care of their home and wards, and likewise, are bread-winners too in this patriarchal society. Domestic repression and denial of instant justice has been there for long. Time to choreograph it in a civil way with strict adherence to established norms.

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