Aurat March 2019 was held on 8th March 2019 in the major cities of Pakistan, including Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad, and Quetta, to mark International Women’s Day 2019 in the country. Women from all walks of life joined the March – lawyers, doctors, students, activists, housewives, children, and even men.
Yakjehti, Aman, Behanchara
Ab yehi hai hamara naara
Video Credit: Faisal Satti pic.twitter.com/2MaEd9u77L
— Nighat Dad (@nighatdad) March 9, 2019
With the feminist consciousness pervading the 21st century, Pakistani women did not lag behind in celebrating their womanhood and demanding an end to the patriarchal norms limiting their opportunities with slogans like “Behanchaara aur Yakjehti” (Sisterhood and Unity), “Hum Auratein” (Us Women), etc.
The Aurat March included a manifesto demanding safe spaces for women and putting an end to violence. It also put forward the demands for economic, environmental and reproductive justice for women. The aim of the March was to raise awareness on the issues regarding women, including sexual harassment, domestic violence, rape, assault, and oppressive patriarchal attitudes.
Women and children conducted bike rallies in the streets to “reclaim their right to public spaces.” This really emphasized and highlighted the issue of women traveling in public spaces. Bikes, cycles, and Scootys are overall considered unsafe for women in the streets. This very act sent out a strong message to normalize this taboo attached to women cycling or biking.
— Aurat March Lahore (@AuratMarch) March 9, 2019
There was an eminent zeal in different institutions, students, and forums to bring forward their own slogans highlighting the issues. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter were thronged by the preparations for the march, including posts, photos, and stories.
Here are some interesting slogans from the march held in different cities. “Ao Khana Sath Banayen” caters to the much-mocked “Apna Khana Khud Garm Kro” slogan of last year. Other posters also highlight sexual assaults and rape cases of girl child Zainab, Kasuri children, etc. Many men thronged these Marches. Some came to observe and watch, while others supported women by holding up slogans and participating in the event.
The idea of feminism and patriarchy is a much-debated issue in Pakistan, not just globally. It has certainly mocked women’s struggles, gaining criticism from men and women alike. Some even felt that the idea of the March was misused with some of the slogans that were seen.
I’m sorry but as a woman I think a lot of posters used in the aurat march do not portray feminism. Matlab Kuch bhi ? Please do not ruin it for those who actually want a positive change.
— Sara. (@BauhatSara) March 8, 2019
A globally prevalent criticism was, especially by men, on why International Men’s Day was not celebrated with such zeal, or whether there was any such day too. In response to memes and tweets mocking IWD and Aurat March in this light, here’s one of the memes that went viral.
Some even brought religion into their debates and slogans to back up their reason for this March.
— Hassaan Ahmed (@AhmedPK5) March 8, 2019
While some others used religion to discredit the whole idea of the march.
What you people want is already given by islam 1450 years and you just need to do is read it and live your life according to that everything will be fine but no you people are going out for beghairti
— Mohammad Tariq (@Mohamma34389559) March 9, 2019