March 9th, 2021
International Women’s Day, was celebrated on March 8, with a series of impressive ‘Aurat Marches’ across Pakistan. To update our viewers on the events as they happened, our correspondents were present on-site in 5 cities (Lahore, Islamabad, Hyderabad, Karachi, and Quetta).
Below is a summary of our comprehensive coverage of March.
Participants of the Aurat March (AM) Lahore started gathering at the planned venue outside the Lahore Press Club at around 2 pm. As the afternoon passed, the march grew in size until it finally set off for its destination outside the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) building at Egerton Road. The marchers carried placards and chanted slogans against the patriarchal system and its norms as well as the increasing cases of gender-based violence.
The march ended in a sit-in where the participants performed the ‘rape-anthem’ in Urdu. An art installation, titled ‘Dirty Linen’ displayed the representations of the clothing of victims and survivors of sexual violence.
A special camp was set up outside the press club Lahore to highlight the plight of the victims of forced conversion and marriages.
The Aurat March Quetta comprised of several small rallies which converged outside the Quetta press club at about 2 in the afternoon where it transformed into a central political protest. The participants of the march comprised mainly of progressives political parties and left-wing students’ organizations and lay special emphasis on the need for female education in the province.
In addition to highlighting the plight of women in the province, the march also focused on several political issues facing the Baloch citizens of the country.
The Karachi Aurat March for this year was titled the “Aurat Dharna” and started on time at 3 pm outside the Frere Hall. The march was attended by a large number of men and women and was the largest procession (in terms of numbers) to be taken out in Pakistan on Monday. A large number of gender minorities also attended the march and highlighted their issues.
Prominent figures from the entertainment industry and the intelligentsia also attended the march and expressed solidarity with women.
In addition to the main Aurat March held at the Frere Hall another smaller procession under the name of “Mehnat Kash Aurat rally” was also organized outside the Karachi press club to highlight the plight of the female working classes.
The March in Islamabad was titled the “Aurat Azadi March” (Women Freedom March) and was organized by left-wing feminist organizations including the Women Democratic Front (WDF). The march had a delayed start but soon swelled in size. Much like the marches in Lahore and Karachi, this one too was attended by a large number of professional women who chanted slogans against patriarchy and abuse.
The march was perhaps the most festive celebration of the day and videos of it went viral online, where the participants danced to the music in celebration at D-Chowk.
The march in Hyderabad was also a very vibrant one and was made up of several small rallies from other cities including Jamshoro. The rallies from the cities around Hyderabad gathered by afternoon and converged into the main rally.
The march in Hyderabad was also unique because of the overall mix of people. A large number of working-class women and those from trade unions such as the peasant women’s union, home-based workers’ unions, and industrial workers attended the rally. The marchers highlighted issues faced by working-class women of the country laying special focus on income disparity between men and women and providing social security to women employed in informal sectors.