Women & men from all strata of Pakistani life gathered to commemorate International Women’s Day with the much-awaited Aurat March, holding placards with important messages, sharing poetry with deep meaning & celebrating the blessing of womanhood. Aurat means woman, & March means rallying, translated from Urdu.
I’m researching on campaign messages of mainstream opposition groups in Pakistan as part of my thesis. This ‘evangelical’ placard was an outcome of what I have learned. It has two elements; the text, which in English roughly means, ‘shame & honour isn’t determined by your clothes, it’s in the way you think’. In Roman Urdu, ‘sharam aur haya kapron mein nahi, soch mein soch mein’. Such framing irks mainstream sensibilities of morality by highlighting the double standards for men & women in Muslim Pakistan; the costume, a prayer cap & a garment, popularly associated with Muslim men attire in Asia, counters the assumption that Marchers are ‘immoral women’.
The unprecedented success of Aurat March is in effectively translating universal values of equality & human rights in Pakistan’s cultural lexicon. It moves these conversations from Parliament to the Kitchen. Much like the global #metoo movement.
Pakistan has a glorious history of women activism. Women have challenged military dictators & discriminatory laws through street demonstrations.
To cite the Instagram post APA style: [@divamagazinepakistan]. (March 8, 2020). #DivaExclusive: #auratmarch2020 #Karachi. [Instagram photograph]. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/B9eNEOnppYC/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link