Women Reclaim Public Sphere Seminar

A praise worthy event was organized at the Karachi Press Club on the 8th of May’09. A seminar on Women to Reclaim Public Space by Women Alliance Front. An organization focusing on restoring women rights and striving for one constitution and one set of laws for all of Pakistan. The key points to be endorsed were:

  1. The writ of the government must prevail on the basis of moral authority premised on protection, health, education, livelihood and security of all persons equally
  2. One constitution and one set of laws for all of Pakistan
  3. Urgent de-weaponisation of society
  4. No special accords that compromise the rights of any group of citizens of Pakistan

The event was held in an open tent blazing banners painted with freedom of expression. The heat seemed to be the issue in the beginning with all the whining about being melt down to bit’s sinking the background of ‘Hum dekhain gay’ the brilliant words of Faiz Sahab brought to life by Saira bano. I was pleased to see some men accompanying their wives while someone managed to add up a quirky comment ‘ We should worship these men no?’ . With muffled laughs the attention diverted as Mrs Nuzhat Kidvai took the stage. I must state that she is one hell of a soft spoken woman ,her opening and intros to the upcoming speakers lightened the rather tensed air.Here I would like to appreciate Kidvai Sahab who was there ,despite his recent cataract operation,eagerly participating in the event. We need more men like him *more power to you sir*

First to come was Nazish who talked about conventionalizing Feminism. Nazish summed up her address by pointing out the root of the menace. Helping us identify the roles of countries like Saudi Arabia and America during the influx of Afghan refugees in Zia’s time. Managing to make us think how horrors from the past come back to haunt us. Talibanaization being the fruits of our self created menace. The flogging incident was also discussed with focus heavily on incidents that have happened in the past. The address was summed up with an eye opener that the society indeed is in the favor of freedom for women. The outrage at the flogging video being the staunch evidence.

Next to come was Warda -A university student representing the youth and its problems. She spoke about the environment at educational institutes which are quite contrary to the common belief of the youth. The constant ‘harassment’ being faced by college/university students and the frequent sabotage of freedom of speech/expression /dressing. She also highlighted an incident which I believe is very common and yet not even counted as harassment’ . When while strolling down a bazaar or the university’s lobby a man would manage to quickly whisper ‘astaghfiruALLAH’ leaving you with mixed emotion of anger and disgust .

With that Farhat took the stage talking about her recent survey regarding the displaced people and the problems being faced by them. Farhat spoke about the frequent influx of refugees from the affected areas. She highlighted in particular Kohat which is also feared to have Taliban insurgency. Due to lack of time she couldn’t detail us on the survey. Although I believe her survey could be quite fruitful specially in the back dropped of the current situations in Swat.

Sheema Kirmani

Now was the time to be blown away and let the heat wave hit us from the phenomenal Sheema Kirmani. Her performance brought life and soul to the event. It cant be described in words. An art that spoke many languages identifying the woman behind all the ‘traditional name tags and roles’. A character who isn’t only a mother, daughter ,wife or sister but a woman. An identity beyond the traditional boundaries. Womanhood that cant be caged , a entity that sprouts liveliness and freedom of expression. Her powerful performance focused on the refusal of a woman to be deprived an identity of her own. An expression that kept us all mesmerized by the power of art and its diversity.

Arundhati roy stunned the adience by her mere presence. Her address can be seen here: Courtesy to Sabeen of the Peace niche:

Part 2

The event was covered live by Pro-Pakistan with special Thanks to Faisal Kapadia and Jamal Ashiquin for Rting the Coverage.


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