RAWALPINDI: Speakers at a talk arranged by the Awami Worker’s Party (AWP) suggested that socialist feminism is needed in order to address the social and economic oppression faced by women and that liberal feminism, along which most NGOs operate, is not helping.
They said making laws will not resolve women’s issues because even progressive laws cannot be implemented properly in a capitalist and feudal society.
The talk on Wednesday in the AWP office in Rawalpindi, which was about social feminism in Sindh, was opened by Alya Bakhshal who is AWP’s women’s secretary in Sindh and is the founder of the Women’s Democratic Front (WDF).
Ms Bakhshal talked about her experiences while forming WDF and making women aware of socialist feminism.
She explained the history of the movement for the empowerment of women and how it suffered during Zia’s dictatorship. The movement for women’s empowerment has been depoliticised due to an increase in the number if NGOs, she added.
There has even been opposition to the movement from the left, Ms Bakhshal said.
“Some leftist political parties would insist that women’s issues will be addressed after class barriers were dealt with and national liberation is achieved,” she said.
“However, women’s liberation cannot be an afterthought because patriarchy is linked to other social menaces including capitalism and racism,” she added.
The women in urban areas of Sindh and those from the upper and middle classes have gained many freedoms in the recent years, she said.
“But even for these women, who come from progressive families and are encouraged to work and study, are still faced with opposition when they try to enter politics. Women are influenced by the society and are not confident in certain situations when they are surrounded by men,” she said.
This is why, Ms Bakhshal added, there was a need for a women’s front in Sindh which will help women organise themselves politically while associated with AWP.
WDF organises study circles amongst women in Hyderabad so they can gain a better understanding about feminism and socialism and also publishes a regular magazine about women’s issues from a socialist perspective. It also mobilises women for various causes.
Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2016