Marching on International women’s day is not something alien to the world but in Pakistan, it is comparatively a new idea as the first-ever women march (Aurat March in Urdu) was carried out only 2 years ago in March 2018.
On multiple occasions, the organizers of the march have said that they wanted to put the women question in front of masses, whereas, previously this day was observed with clichéd activities like holding seminars and press-conferences which had a very small audience with little influence and almost ended up with zero Impact. Considering that women make up half the population of the country, it was an injustice.
By this time, knowing the amount of attention Aurat March has received, one can never deny the fact that this march has achieved its basic goal which was to gain the attention of the masses in big numbers, now all they have to do is put forward their problems in front of the stakeholder but it is where controversy falls upon the organizers and majority participants. Differences have arisen among society and also within the ranks of the progressive lot.
The right-wing political parties have been categorically rejecting these women-led marches since their emergence and especially this year religious parties including the infamous students of ‘Jamia Hafza’ in Islamabad have threatened the marchers.
However, the participants do not see that as a hurdle because according to them they knew such elements exist who have interests attached with the dominance of regressive and men-controlled society. On the other hand, in Balochistan, it has become a common observation that the Baloch women feel a lack of representation of their problems on the agenda of the March.
Baloch women activists complain about not considering missing persons’ issue a women problem as the movement for the release of missing persons is women dominated. Baloch women consider that women are exploited and stripped of their rights on many levels which also include suppression by the state itself. Despite the conservations, women in Balochistan have held a march last year and have announced to hold one this year too.
In Karachi, a group of Baloch women is going to join the March under the banner of ‘Baloch Raaji’ which they claim will highlight Baloch women’s problems. Although Baloch society has been subjected to negative propaganda and has been termed a conservative one in Pakistani media and in their intelligentsia’s discourse, but Aurat March in Balochistan has seen support from a wide spectrum of people, from young students to veteran politicians.