Aurat March is an annual event in Pakistan scheduled for 8th March this year in many cities, and in Karachi on 12th March.
I read Marvi Sirmed’s article ‘Aurat March 2023 : Six Years On’ published in thefridaytimes.com and would like to respond.
I have always supported women’s emancipation.
I do not approve of the ban on Aurat March imposed in Lahore this year by the Pakistan authorities.
However, that having been said, I wish to add that I do not support such a march, and would like to give my reasons.
The huge problems of people in Pakistan ( and India ) are widespread poverty, malnutrition, unemployment, skyrocketing prices of essential commodities like food, almost total lack of proper healthcare and good education for the masses, etc. Can one say that women alone suffer from these problems ? Obviously not. Men suffer from them too.
No doubt women face special problems which men do not face, but that is because in countries like Pakistan and India society is still largely patriarchal i.e. semi feudal, in which women are often suppressed, discriminated against and face restrictions which men do not face. In such societies, though there are some enlightened men, most men do not believe that women should get emancipation, and they regard women as inferior to men.
It is only by destruction of our patriarchal semi feudal societies, and drastic change of people’s mindsets that the transformation to a modern, industrial society can be achieved, putting an end to these problems, and giving women real emancipation.
Can women alone achieve this objective ? They cannot. They must join their menfolk in a mighty united people’s struggle for this historical transformation, which will be arduous, long drawn and require tremendous sacrifices.
What can an Aurat March achieve ? I submit it can achieve nothing, and is just an empty ritual and a gimmick, with a lot of fanfare. In fact it is counter productive, because by raising slogans like ‘Mera jism meri marzi’ it gives support to reactionary and religious bigots to oppose women’s emancipation.
Though I do not doubt Marvi Sirmed’s sincerity, her thinking about how women’s emancipation can be achieved seems to me totally inane and superficial.