150 activists gather in Lahore to discuss women's challenges in Pakistan
At least 150 feminists and human rights defenders from all over the country gathered at a two-day event organised by Shirkatgah – Women’s Resource Centre -- and discussed various challenges faced by women in their respective regions.
At the end of the convention, participants pledged to engage with each other in strengthening the women’s movement.
The ‘Feminist Convening’ was divided into parallel sessions to discuss some key themes, including misogyny and respectability politics; occupying online and offline spaces; feminist creative expressions; engendered labour dynamics; de-marginalising the intersections of religion; ethnicity and ability; displacement; land rights; the politics of space; building and strengthening links with allies; and international commitments.
Former MNA Bushra Gohar, National Commission on the Status of Women Chairperson Khawar Mumtaz and senior members of the Women Action Forum (WAF) Rubina Saigol, Neelum Hussain, Humaira Sheikh, Gulnar Tabassum, Tahira Abdullah, Nighat Said Khan, Kausar S Khan and Sameena Rehman were among the participants.
The event offered social justice activists a space for furthering discussions, deepening analyses, sharing innovative strategies and hard-learned lessons to address both context-specific issues and long-term aim of gender equality.
Addressing the event, Shirkat Gah Executive Director Farida Shaheed said that the convention responded to a need felt across South Asia and South East Asia to create a consensus to address emerging and older challenges.
The discussion during this two-day event highlighted various ways to strengthen the movement, ensure effectiveness in activism, maintain a discourse on the role of the state and engaging with state structures and formulate recommendations in order to achieve the needed changes.
The second day of the convening was dedicated to movement-building discussions and the way forward. The participants emphasised on creating platforms where they could share common ideas, experiences and challenges.
Feminist poets Neelum Bashir, Azra Abbas and Yameen Hameed read their poems. The daughter of progressive poet and writer Fahmida Riaz also paid tribute to her late mother by reading her poem ‘Aqeela’.
This national convening is part of a two-year initiative by Shirkat Gah, ‘Fempower!’, which aims at strengthening the feminist agenda by supporting women’s movements, deepening feminist understanding, expanding the number of and solidarity between activists and inserting feminist thinking into other social movements and organisations.
Originally published in Dawn, April 09th, 2019