Over the last couple of days, there has been a lot of hype about the Aurat March. I am sure many of you have been following the updates online.
I decided that I wanted to be a part of the entire experience and witness women coming out in support for each other
— Maheen Taseer (@MaheenTaseer) March 8, 2018
As a woman, I was quite nervous, myself. Just to imagine how the event would unfold and the kind of impact it would have, I was hoping for us to get it right. Women of our generation have not been a part of something like this, before.
While we talk about equality in our own circles and try to not be complacent in our own lives, larger movements specifically for women are absent in the country.
We were supposed to gather at 4 pm in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and everywhere else women could gather in Pakistan
I am based in Lahore so I decided to join in the March over here. I have rarely been to that side of Lahore. I was trying to figure out why they chose that particular spot for the March, rather than keeping it at “this” side of the city (referring to Liberty, here). This was all that was going on in my mind while I was rushing here and there to get my work done in the office and finally leave for the place.
I finally managed to get a ride at 3.30pm and started moving towards the destination.
I was going through a variety of emotions. I was excited to be witnessing a gathering like this. At the same time, I was nervous about my own participation in the event. This was a first for me. And there was also this satisfaction that many would witness this March and it will pause their lives for a minute and it might make them question why women are out on the streets demanding to be treated as human beings too.
Lyton Road, the area the March was organized at, is one of the busiest sides of Lahore. The influx of traffic is such that it is quite difficult to have a moment of calm
I was dropped off in front of Hamdard Clinic and it was bit difficult to locate fellow marchers due to the rush hour but I finally managed to see a tiny group of women standing in a corner, waiting for the March to begin.
It was almost 4pm and I thought to myself, is that it? Where is everyone else? Is it just another one of those days where you are busy and you cannot attend something? A larger realization hit me! How many movements would have died down just because people did not show up?
But all is well – at least those who did show up count, I said to myself and joined the group of women to wait for other participants to gather
I got to interview quite a few people while I was busy killing time. I met Ali Tareen, a budding politician. I asked him why he thought it was important to stand up for the cause, as a man, and he aptly said that these movements are what the country needs and the direction that the people of this country need to follow.
By the time I got finished with taking a few pictures and interviewing people around me, the crowd had grown massive. It was unbelievable!
I jumped right in to start marching with everyone around me.
It was overwhelming and one of the best experiences of my life.
The traffic had dispersed, rather we had managed to bring it to a halt. For that time period, everyone was fixated on what was happening on around. Shopkeepers had gotten out of their shops and everyone had just stopped in their steps.
We started marching towards Charing Cross, chanting slogans and joining hands to make an indispensable wall
It was amazing to witness people of all ages join the March. People had brought in their young daughters as well to make them a part of history
There was no way on the planet that an Aurat March could be completed without the mention of late Asma Jehangir
“Asma Jehangir ka raasta, humara raasta.”
I also got to meet Digital Rights champion, Nighat Daad who has worked tirelessly for the online safety of women and men in Pakistan.
One aspect which was genuinely amazing was seeing men participate in the March as well
Even for me, the March could not have been complete without my coworker, Shah, who was brilliant behind the camera and in shouting at the top of his lungs when slogans were being chanted.
All in all, it was one day where we all stood in the same line, demanding the same rights in the same chorus. It was empowering and encouraging and at the same time, it had the impact of stopping people in their steps to listen to what we had to say
The day would not have been complete without meeting the brains behind the March. The ladies who managed to gather such a massive crowd behind them.
Purniya Awan and Leena Ghani – the organizers in Lahore, were proud of the moment. One could see how much they had to work in order to put together this March. Despite the heat waves showering at us, not one moment was overshadowed by it and that it what we all felt in unison.
More power to you, ladies! This is going to be a story I will narrate for years to come.
Cover image via: @sundaytimes / Instagram