I Organized The Aurat March In Lahore And I Learned So Much More About Being A Woman In Pakistan

By The Mango Tree | 21 Apr, 2018

Aurat March harr aurat ke liye

 

Editor’s Note: The views expressed here are those of the author’s and don’t necessarily represent or reflect the views of MangoBaaz.

 

By: Leena Ghani

 

We call this world our home. Can you imagine not feeling safe in your own home?

I don’t have to tell you that ever since so called civilized society has started, women have been systematically exploited and suppressed.  Fortunately, we live in a different world today than our mothers and their mothers did. Communication is wide spread, awareness is at a level which has unprecedented in human history and for once women are as well informed and as well connected as men.

 

Women are screaming from the top of their lungs about the disparity, the way they are looked upon and treated everywhere they go

And I love the screams. I love this hustle and bustle. I love the talk. I love the chants. I love the slogans and I love the hashtags.

aurat-march-leena-ghani-1
Source: thenews.com.pk

In spite of this however, women have not attained the place in society which is there rightful due and in a-lot of countries and societies especially ones that are more conservative, their space is rather restricted. Pakistan has a rich history of women participation in political and social spheres.

The purpose of the Aurat March was not to just see some space, but to raise our voice and to articulate issues that are imperative for the betterment for the women. And need to be made a very strong part of our narrative.

 

My experience while helping organize the Aurat March was one of the most fulfilling ones yet

It made me and all who participated feel they were part of something bigger, something that united us all. As we marched during the Aurat March, it didn’t matter what we were wearing, how we were all from such different walks of life. What mattered was that we were in it together. A force that had a life of its own. A sisterhood. And for me more than anything it was the feeling of knowing that I was not alone.

aurat-march-leena-ghani-2
Source: dailypakistan.com.pk

When I approached the wonderful ladies, who helped organize this Aurat March, it was a a testament of how, when women support each other, they can achieve anything. Which is also why the Girls Bike Rally organized by the wonderful Girls at Dhaba’s was so momentous. For the first time, my own city opened up to me. It felt like the whole city moved in slow motion. Little girls zoomed past each other on their colorful bikes supporting placards with slogans. To reclaim their rightful place. And their freedom.

 

Men for all of eternity have been supporting each other. We hear them proudly exclaim how they would do anything for each other and in the same breath we also get to hear how women tear each other down

male-friendships-history
Source: artofmanliness.com

I agree this is a bit of a generalization, however there is some truth to it. From an early age women are told that their homes are not their own, that they will be married off and that will be their final aboard.  A final resting place. How untrue though. When that’s the one thing she never gets. Some rest. A place. As she is entrusted with more responsibilities. As if a woman is born with a instruction manual and knows exactly what to do in every situation.

 

Girls don’t mature faster, they are taught and expected to do so. First she has to uphold the family name by being a dutiful daughter, then a daughter in law

That the families’ honor depends on how hot the food is and how round the roti is. This ridiculous notion and labour of love is what reduces women to become shadows of who they truly are. A man’s heart is through his stomach they say. Really? Than ask yourself do you really want such a heart?! A man needs to be technically handled so he doesn’t lose interest. Oh great! Now we also know how short his attentions span is! Yet, we keep reinforcing the same myths and practices.

I can’t stress enough how this notion is isolating women and taking away their power. A women besides that is so much more. Let me also clarify there is absolutely nothing wrong or regressive in wanting to be a stay at home wife. But the keyword here is ‘want’.  A choice.

Source: images.dawn.com

Over the years we have been reduced to just half of ourselves. It’s crucial we change the inner dialogue we have with ourselves and become conscious of how we talk to the women around us, especially our daughters. How we project our own fears, our old customs and traditions that don’t work for us anymore on to each other. We still look at each other how men look at us. This is also a from of oppression, and believe you me, it’s so deeply rooted we don’t even see how it has lived in us and grown.

 

The conversation about what it means to be a woman in Pakistan needs to change. Women in our culture who know what they want are looked upon as aggressive, selfish and westernized

blowing-smoke-woman-mouth
Source: shutterstock.com

Sisterhood in its essence means, we give each other space and support to be who we want to be. Women loving themselves and each other without being answerable to anyone. Without being apologetic. It’s about being empathetic to each others struggles. The world we are striving to build is not anything like the one we live in today. Men for centuries have ruled this world. And I’ll be honest I don’t like the world they have created, where half of the world population doesn’t feel safe. It’s time we shift the balance, look after our gender and we build a world that is comforting, loving, and all inclusive.

 

It’s news to some when I tell them, that the concept of equality started with the birth of Islam. Islam is the first religion that gave women their equal right

women-in-islam
Source: eaalim.com

And what we don’t read in Islamic text books – mostly written by men, is just this. The Prophet (pbuh) used to consult his wives in all matters political, domestic and social. He never tried to change or suppress them. His first wife Khadeeja was much older, proposed to him and was also his boss. A’isha his second wife, the first born muslim, also known as the mother of believers, had a remarkable memory. And she was the narrator of most of the authentic hadith. Umm Salam was highly intelligent. You know a woman’s and orphans right to inheritance? Yup! We can thank Umm Salama for that. She asked her Prophet (pbuh) why Allah never addressed women in the Quran. And to her surprise Allah answered her query and for the first time women were addressed in the Quran. As equals. Incidentally, that’s also when the first women resistance started. It’s important to know that, women asking for their rights is not a western concept. In-fact, they inherited it from us. The first wave of feminism started some 1400 years ago. How’s that for a progressive all inclusive religion.

 

So, this is a request to all women, trans-women, mothers and mothers to be. Support the women in your life and around you

women-empower-behnein
Source: crisisgroup.com

Support your daughters in helping them become who they want to be. Support them into taking charge of their lives. Life with all its wonders is also unpredictable and we need to make sure we don’t reduce women to just be helpless wives and daughters. We are so much more. The future is all female. I see it around me everyday. I saw it at the Aurat March. Women are voicing their opinions and concerns. Women are making decisions. Women are having children, careers, relationships and doing it all brilliantly. Women are walking out of miserable marriages to reclaim their lives. Women are waking up from a deep toxic slumber that is patriarchy. And it’s about time. Because there is no doubt, it is women who will finally clean up the mess men have made for centuries. After all, women fix things!

 

We raise our daughters, but we love our sons. It’s time we love our daughters and raise better sons.

 

 

My Parents’ Marriage Taught Me That Khaana Khud Nahi, Saath Garam Karna Is A Much Better Option

 

 

Women Across Pakistan Reclaimed Their Public Space With A Bike Rally And Here’s What Went Down

 


cover image: Ema Anis / Amnesty International via dawn.com

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