Aurat March Breaking Barriers Against Patriarchy in Pakistan
Aurat March was a display of power and unity by women who are not seen in public spaces freely and their opinions and demands are almost never heard.
From metropolitan cities to far-flung areas of Pakistan, women came out to march for economic, environmental and social justice; accountability and justice for violence; reproductive rights; justice against police brutality; inclusion of transgender individuals and women with disabilities; the rights of women from minority groups; access to public spaces and push for peace and against war; against militarization in daily life and the rhetoric of jingoism. While a large number of women participated in the event a number of like-minded men also joined the march to show their support for the cause.
The Hum Aurtein movement is a joint effort of feminist women, transgender individuals, non-binary persons and sexual minorities of all classes and religious persuasions who see patriarchal structures as responsible for the sexual, economic and structural exploitation of women. They are an apolitical entity and do not take funds from NGO’s or the corporate sector. The collective organized the 2018 Aurat March; however, this year’s march grew both in the number of participants and the women who helped organize it.
Social media played a large role in building momentum behind this movement. The Aurat March Lahore chapter uploaded their manifesto giving details of the importance of the Aurat March. It claims to be a movement towards collective action and consciousness building to stand against patriarchal structures in Pakistan which results in sexual, economic and structural exploitation of women. Here is an example:
a. We demand that the right to autonomy and decision-making over our bodies;
c. We agitate for equal access to quality reproductive and sexual health services for women, all genders and sexual minorities.
During the march, participants carried placards with messages about the challenges that women face in their daily lives. Some of the placards were against patriarchy, while others highlighted social issues and demanded more rights.