Bracing ourselves for Aurat March 2021

The annual women's march can be an overwhelming subject and Aurat March 2021 will be no different. Here is how you can be better prepared

By Hareem Fatima

KARACHI: Aurat March, throughout its existence, has either been loved or hated; there is no in-between. With an extremely polarised state of affairs, there have only been two major ways of looking at it, to either fully embrace it and become it, or dissociate yourself to the point of becoming hostile towards it. Those who choose the latter hardly seem to have the willingness of reading up and understanding why the cries of despair echo from the posters of all those attending. Apart from that, how is it that it is only the posters that are highlighted from the march, and not the ten other things that happen? Here is how to look at Aurat March 2021, that is if – emphasis on ‘if‘, you are willing to expand the horizons of your mind without feeling threatened by women protesting for their rights.

Follow SOPs

It is Aurat March, in 2021 – a year when we are finally recovering from the coronavirus pandemic. Although the pace is slower for our country, masks are still an effective tool against the virus. Chant for women’s rights to healthcare while taking care of your health as best as possible. Maintain social distancing and carry sanitizers along with you.

Dear men, breathe in…breathe out

8th March – International Women’s day is a day when women seek justice for all the misdoings they face throughout the year such as unpaid labor, domestic abuse, acid attacks, honor killing, child marriages, forced conversions, harassment, the disparity in pay, workplace discrimination, gender inequality in public places, rape, murder and several other crimes against women. Dear men, breathe in…breathe out. It isn’t about you, so please do not attempt to silence women by giving your two cents on how they could protest for their issues otherwise. You do not live in their shoes, acknowledge your lack of knowledge in this case. Listen.

Keep yourself hydrated

The patriarchy is scorching, but so is the sun. Staying outdoors can tire you easily, and we need you to stay fresh so we can all chant together for women’s rights. Keep a separate bottle of water for yourself, and keep taking little gulps every now and then to recharge your battle mode!

Bring your own posters

Oh, we are sorry our poster did not address a pointer you had in mind. How about next time you show up instead of sitting at home waiting for someone else to raise your points exactly the way you wanted them addressed? Every poster at the Aurat March has its own story, specific to the person carrying it. Maybe your story is different. Maybe only you know what that feels like. Share your story. If you’re a man, bring one for the women who empower you with resources, labor, and love.

Think beyond posters too

Every year, Aurat March publishes its manifesto. A list of pointers they plan on getting addressed by the authorities. Go through it if you have the willingness and the ability. There are speeches, poems alongside those posters. It is an event, coupled with an essence of protest that brings in a sense of urgency to women’s issues. Maybe attend and see for yourself. Meet women from various parts of the city, and possibly – the country. Listen to what they have to say and see how it shifts your paradigm over Aurat March.

At this point, nearly every person attending Aurat March 2021 expects a backlash – because there is more threat to society by women protesting for their basic rights to life, mobility, healthcare, education, and bodily autonomy than the threat posed by crimes against these very women.

Read More