Aurat March organisers want health, education budgets raised

Published March 7, 2023
Women rights activist Farzana Bari addresses a press conference at the National Press Club on Monday. Imaan Zainab Mazari-Hazir is also seen. — White Star
Women rights activist Farzana Bari addresses a press conference at the National Press Club on Monday. Imaan Zainab Mazari-Hazir is also seen. — White Star

ISLAMABAD: The organisers of Aurat March on Monday presented a list of 60 demands, including an end to patriarchal violence, increased representation of women at all levels of decision-making concerning climate change, a reduction in the defence budget and increased allocations for health and education.

These demands were presented by women’s rights activists, including Farzana Bari and Imaan Zainab Mazari-Hazir, before the media at a pre-march press conference at the National Press Club (NPC).

The demands also include raising minimum wage allocations, and moving away from anti-poor policies of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and debt traps.

The organisers said the decision to focus on the “feminisation of climate justice” was taken in the aftermath of the floods that ravaged the country last year, resulting in over 1,100 deaths and destruction and damage to one million homes.

While, overall relief and rehabilitation efforts were required and are still needed today, they said, adding that specific impact on women and young girls had been largely neglected in the mainstream discourse.

In light of this neglect, they said that key demands had been advanced for 2023 by Aurat March Islamabad, including bringing an end to period poverty, ensuring economic justice and budgetary allocations for universal childcare in all formal work spaces in Pakistan and formalisation of informal sector/market (where a majority of women are employed).

The march organisers said that despite an application for grant of no-objection certificate (NOC) submitted to the district administration well in advance, the same was turned down without any cogent reason just mere days before the march.

The district administration and Islamabad police were reminded of their obligation to safeguard the lives of peaceful marchers who had been observing the same route since at least 2018.

The organisers announced that the march would begin from outside the National Press Club at 2pm and conclude at D-Chowk as per routine on March 8.

Published in Dawn, March 7th, 2023

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