Book launch: Navigating Pakistani feminism, a page at a time

Published in Tribune here

ISLAMABAD: The cause of feminism in the country is a fight because when women are being killed, raped, being led out of school, subjected to domestic violence and discrimination at work, it is indeed a fight.

This was stressed by author Aisha Sarwari at the launch of her book titled ‘Navigating Pakistani Feminism: Fight by Fight’.

At the launch on Saturday, Sarwari read a few excerpts from her book and said that the internet is a game changer for women. “There has to be literacy in order for women to operate the internet but it is a huge harnessing vacant force that women can leverage for reproductive, health and mobility rights because today even the educated women are not aware of their rights and what it is to be a truly empowered woman,” she added.

In response to a question of how we normally carry on after hearing about a five-year-old being raped or a bombing at a girls’ school or a young couple being shot for honour just because they wanted to get married, the author said that there are always two things one can do with their experiences in such a scenario. “One is that you can choose to be overpowered by it and second is that you can choose to do something about it,” she said.

Sarwari stated that she used her writing as a tool to express the angst about what happened. “This is the first step towards understanding the broader context of what change requires”.

Talking about the ways in which change can be brought, Aisha said that we need men who are advocates of women empowerment. “The amplification is much more when men are on the pedestal advocating for women’s rights, as compared to when women do it,” said the author.

Rakhshanda Naaz, a women’s rights activist, highlighted that shrinking spaces is major issue for Pakistani women. “Women are constantly facing that the spaces where they had rights to go are being taken away from them. Women had the right to go into the field, they were mobile but mobility is the major issue and restriction for women today”, she said while stating that the state’s policies still do not encourage women to stand up for their rights.

Marvi Memon, PML-N MNA, supported the title of the book and said that it is indeed a fight. “I say so because it takes a fight to stand up for legislations that support women and empower them. And it has been a beautiful struggle because there has been progress,” she said.

She also added that it is important for us to promote such books for general awareness. “This needs to be read and we should push other women’s work. Women need to stand up for each other. The empowered women of this country need to show the way to the less empowered ones,” she said while speaking about the ways to achieve progress on this fight.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2016.

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