International Women’s Day is a day when the world gets to celebrate the accomplishments of women, reflect on the developments made for them. It is a day dedicated to recognizing acts of determination and valour by ordinary women who have made extraordinary accomplishments in their respective communities and countries.
Although the world has progressed greatly, no country in the world has been able to achieve complete gender equality, or eliminate gender parity in different walks of life.
More than 50 years ago, we landed on the moon, discovered the existence of the great black hole, and have been able to avoid a new World War for more than 70 years. At the same time, 2.7 billion women of the world have been deprived of the same rights and opportunities as men. As of 2019, women parliamentarians were less than 25%. And even today, 1 in 3 women experience gender-based violence.
The negative perception of Women’s Day
Just like we failed to understand a bunch of impactful notions, our society has yet again failed to comprehend the meaning of Feminism and the Aurat March. Pakistani society is largely dominated by men and the concept of feminism has always been misunderstood by both men and women.
So what is feminism? What is so scary, so triggering about the concept that people would rather argue about being anti-feminist than understanding feminism.
Feminism at its core is about equality of men and women, not ‘sameness’. Many people come up with the argument that men and women are not the same, thus, equality can’t be achieved. Their bodies are different (i.e. awoman’s body is smaller and weaker), and because they don’t have the same masculine strength, equality cannot and should not be fought for.
What they fail to see is that we, women, aren’t striving for equal bodily strength but something much deeper and important. We are struggling for equal access to opportunities and rights.
Why do we need your support?
The benefits of gender equality are not just for women and girls, but “for everyone whose lives will be changed by a fairer world,” as the chief of UN Women said in her message for International Women’s Day 2020. A country like Pakistan needs to move towards gender equality to achieve economic success.
It does not benefit women only; it equally benefits men. When gender inequality exists, a man who is perceived as ‘ladylike’ is not considered a real man. This harms society as a whole because it fosters a rise in toxic masculinity. Achieving gender equality will give everyone the freedom to express themselves without having to worry about fitting into the regular stereotype.
Most ‘infamous’ slogans and the real stories behind them
“Mera jism meri marzi”
During the Aurat March of 2018, this slogan was chanted for the first time. Soon after, the misogynistic men and mullahs twisted the slogan without any reasonable logic. The entire slogan was widely misinterpreted. Such men (and women) must know that the women who chant this slogan refer to women being in control of their bodies; not being forced or pushed into abortion, rape, sexual harassment and assault, sexual trafficking, forced marriages, prostitution, forced pregnancies, genital mutilation, acid attacks, etc.
“Khud khana garam kar lo”
A lot of people don’t even know the story behind apna khana khud garam kar lo. On the 30th of November, 2017, a man strangled his wife to death for serving him cold food. A resident of Lahore’s Factory Area, Feroz Khan killed Roshan Bibi and fled the spot after committing the hideous crime. So the next time you argue with someone over this slogan, try to emphasize, not just defend your own stance.
“Lo baith gai sahi se”
Girls, if we had a dollar for every time someone asked us to sit like a lady, we wouldn’t even need a job. Sit like a lady means to sit with our legs closed or at least crossed. They don’t even realize that their advice is medically flawed. Orthopaedic expert, Dr Barbara Bergin, who started the whole movement known as S.L.A.M – Sit like a Man, says that sitting like a man is actually the only right way to sit. This is the most accurate way to reduce the chances of joint pain.
Don’t know how to sit like a man? Girl, I got your back.
To sit like a man, let your knees drop slightly apart. Your left leg should be on 7’o clock while the right leg should be at 5’o clock
“Tumhare baap ki sadak nahi hai”
I started driving 4 years back and I kid you not, I was intimidated by every man behind the wheel. After I reflected on it, I realized that I am being intimidated on purpose. The road belongs to us as much as it belongs to men. Women are generally better drivers than men. I am not saying this because I am a woman, but because statistics show they are less involved in fatal accidents.
“Agar dupatta itna pasand hai tou ankon pe bandh lo”
Often I am flabbergasted at how men get sexist without even realizing it. It’s so normal for them to tell women what to do and what not to. If a woman confronts or challenges you, they are regarded as badtehzeeb and behaya. I fail to see how a dupatta makes you modest or how shalwar kameez without dupatta makes you less modest.
Before getting on a debate with someone for mere fun, do understand that we stay quiet for 364 days of the year. We get the 8th of March to let loose. This is our day. Don’t take this away from us!
Happy Women’s Day, Pakistan!