Recently there has been an increase in the number of Women Marches and their impact cannot be denied.

Source: The Irish Times
Source: The Irish Times

Women do not have equal rights as compared to men in most countries. This misogyny has been manifested in several different ways which include social exclusion; sex discrimination; hostility; patriarchy; male dominance or privileges; demeaning of women; violence against women and their objectification.

Pakistan is no different when it comes to gender inequality.

Source: Borgen Magazine
Source: Borgen Magazine

Due to this inequality, violence against women and girls is very common in Pakistan in the form of acid attacks, domestic and spousal violence and ultimately, murder under the so-called ‘honour killings’. Pakistani human rights NGOs estimate that there are about 1,000 “honor killings” every year.

These problems also trickle down to marital relationships in Pakistan. The patriarchal mindset has caused women to suffer in many aspects of life. For instance, women in Pakistan are expected to compromise everything they want to sustain a marriage: their ambitions and passions, career goals, their own personal space and so many other things. These things have grave long-term consequences for women as it takes a toll on their general health as well as their mental health.

Recent marches and protests

However, recently there has been a rise of women standing up for their own rights and sharing their own stories. In addition, there has been a surge of Women marches in several different countries. Celebrities throughout the world have also opened up and started campaigns like the recent #MeToo movement and the #TimesUp movement from Hollywood.  All these marches have also fired up many women (some men, too) to speak up openly about issues that persist throughout the world.

The Aurat March

Source: Tribune
Source: Tribune

Thousands of women, men and transgender activists in the major cities of Pakistan gathered in the first ever Aurat March to mark the global celebration of International Women’s Day. People gathered to protest against the discrimination and acts of violence women and other minorities face in Pakistan. Also, the activists demanded to promote women’s rights especially regarding economic empowerment and their participation in the electoral process. There is no doubt that the government has a pro-women legislation, there is a huge gap in implementing the laws which deprives victims of violence and human rights to access justice. The March was also intended to bridge this gap between the passing of laws and implementing it. It was demanded that the government set up mechanisms for implementing the laws not only on national levels, but also at the district and provincial levels. Also, it was stressed that processes need to be put in place to track and monitor the progress on the laws passed.

Are these marches effective in bringing about change?

Source: Twitter
Source: Twitter

There are several examples in history where women have stood up for their rights and caused a change. Take the Iceland’s Women Strike of 1975 for instance. Women in 1975’s Iceland had been completely pushed to the background. On the 24th of October, 90% of the women did not work, cook, or take care of their children. Although change was not immediate, it slowly did bring about social change. This protest inspired another similar strike in Iceland in 2004 which later helped put Iceland’s first woman president in power.

Similarly, the 1913 Suffrage Parade is a brilliant example where 5,000 courageous women spoke out for the right to equal political participation. This example emphasises that peaceful acts have the power to change the system.

The most recent example is the victory of Saudi Women activists that had been campaigning for the right to drive a car for almost more than two decades. This year Saudia Arabia’s King Salman lifted the ban on women to drive and ended the kingdom’s status as the only country in the world that prohibited women from driving.

Source: BBC
Source: BBC

A single march will not bring about a huge change suddenly. The patriarchal and misogynist mindsets are so deeply ingrained in our society and it will definitely take some time to counteract them. Open mindsets can only be incubated when cultures of fear diminish.Women in Pakistan have remained mostly silent about these issues until recently.The fact that people are debating on such issues is the actual success.  Social change takes years to develop but it can only happen if women stand up for their rights with consistency.

Share:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *