Monday, March 13, 2023
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Aurat March: Women urge eradication of poverty, gender discrimination

"Riyasat jawab do, bhook ka hisab do" was central theme for this year's Aurat March

People take part in Aurat March, an annual socio-political demonstration held to observe International Women´s Day, in Karachi on March 12, 2023. —AFP
People take part in Aurat March, an annual socio-political demonstration held to observe International Women´s Day, in Karachi on March 12, 2023. —AFP

Hundreds of women, men and transgender persons marched in Karachi on Sunday, demanding the eradication of poverty, hunger and discrimination on the basis of gender to commemorate International Women’s Day. 

People from diverse classes and age groups participated in the march.

The central theme for this year's Aurat March was "Riyasat jawab do, bhook ka hisab do" (State give an answer and be accountable for hunger).

People take part in Aurat March or women´s march in Karachi on March 12, 2023. — AFP
People take part in Aurat March or women´s march in Karachi on March 12, 2023. — AFP

The venue for the march was changed for the second consecutive year as the marchers gathered at the Burns garden Karachi around 4pm today. The date of the march was also changed this year from March 8 to 12 as the organisers wanted to hold the march on Sunday — to ensure maximum participation.

People take part in Aurat March, an annual socio-political demonstration, in Karachi on March 12, 2023. —AFP
People take part in Aurat March, an annual socio-political demonstration, in Karachi on March 12, 2023. —AFP

However, the participation was a little pale in comparison to the earlier marches. The reason for the lower attendance could be the recent law and order situation in the country, an organiser told Geo.tv.

Hunger, poverty — a feminist issue

“Hunger, poverty, climate change and inflation are all feminist issues as women — who are a majority in Pakistan — bear the brunt of all these issues more heavily than other sections of society,” said one of the organisers on the occasion of the march.

Musical performances were performed at the event to raise awareness about issues such as forced conversions, bonded labour and transgender rights.

Trans rights and feminist movement

A large number of transgender persons including activists Shehzadi Rai, Mehrub Moiz Awan and Bindya Rana also participated in the march and took the stage to aware the participants about the issues faced by the trans community in the country, specifically after the recent wave of negative campaigning against the vulnerable community.

Talking to Geo.tv, Dr Mehrub Awan said that the purpose of trans people’s participation in the march is to show solidarity. 

“In a country torn by religious, ethnic, linguistic and sectarian divide, people coming out in solidarity with each other is a rare sight,” Mehrub said.

The participants — after the performances — marched towards the Sindh Assembly via the Arts Council of Pakistan. The marchers then staged a short sit-in in front of the Sindh Assembly where activists performed a small play highlighting the issue of rape in the country.

A differently-abled woman at the Aurat March 2023, sitting in her wheelchair with a dhol in her hand.— photo by author
A differently-abled woman at the Aurat March 2023, sitting in her wheelchair with a dhol in her hand.— photo by author

The marchers also held a long piece of white cloth with signs of hands printed on it using red colour. The cloth was carried by the marchers overhead and burnt at the end of the march as a symbol of anger over the hardships faced by them in society.

A notable number of police personnel were assigned to provide security to the marchers, who performed their duties adequately.