Published by the News on Sunday here
With the premise that resolving the big questions on women’s rights, the Pakistani society will be on a progressive trajectory, leading women feminists gathered here at a book launch on Saturday.
Aisha Sarwari’s book, ‘Navigating Pakistani Feminism: Fight by Fight’, was the centre of discussion among veteran feminist Moneeza Hashmi, lawyer and women’s activist from KP/FATA, Rakhshanda Naz and Pakistani politician, Marvi Memon. While presenting their point of view, they laid down the need of a turn-around in the way women are treated in the country especially among those that are part of the informal sector.
The panellists agreed that without Pakistan providing legal and cultural protections for women, they will continue to face astounding levels of violence and harassment both in the domestic and professional spheres. Pakistan has among the worst maternal mortality rates, violence against women rates and ranks second last on the gender equity scale globally.
Moneeza Hashmi talked about the need to recognise that there needs to be a unified voice against the subversive forces against women. “We are not here to only answer the conceptual questions about why feminism is important in this country, we are also here to say that women need to speak the same language and make the same noises because they are disadvantaged in the same broad way by those who feel we belong in the shadows,” she said.
Building on the idea that Pakistan was envisaged as an inclusive and modern state by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Yasser Latif Hamdani in his book “Between Worlds; A Pakistani’s quest to forge meaning” that was launched simultaneously, argues that a Pakistan that does not safeguard its minorities and gives them equal rights as citizens is not a Pakistan worth having. The author is a columnist in the national press and lawyer by profession.
Expressing his optimism for the future, Hamdani said that with enough cycles of democracy, there is hope that Pakistan might fix some of its structural problems and become a modern and progressive state that it was envisaged to be.