LAHORE: Aurat March Lahore chapter has announced its 12-point charter of demands and called for gender-sensitive media coverage that focuses on their substantive demands, rather than spreading misinformation.

The Aurat March leaders presented the charter at a press conference held at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) here on Wednesday.

The march is scheduled to take place on International Women’s Day (March 8) from Lahore Press Club to Faletti’s Hotel on Edgerton Road from 2pm to 6pm.

Aurat March encouraged the media houses to send women and transgender reporters, journalists and media personnel to the press conference to highlight the need for gender-inclusive media.

The speakers at the conference highlighted how Aurat March, other feminist movements and women in politics have been misrepresented in the media.The speakers reiterated the Lahore chapter’s theme for the year 2024: “Politics, Resistance, Liberation”, saying that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has completely failed to conduct a free and fair election and lost the people’s trust.

They called for setting up a ‘truth and reconciliation commission’ with representation from people-led movements, marginalised communities and all political parties, to restore trust in the electoral process.

The speakers expressed disappointment at the ECP’s failure to ensure compliance with the minimum requirement of five percent women’s nomination on general seats for all political parties.

Advocated for “meaningful” representation of women in government, one of the speakers, Fatima said: “While we appreciate that Punjab has a woman as its chief minister for the first time, we are cautious that having a few women in power means little for the ordinary lot in Punjab unless systemic measures are taken to tackle gender inequality in politics.”

Aurat March volunteers said it was important for them to express solidarity with victims of injustices happening across the world, including the genocide in Gaza and the continued occupation of Kashmir.

They also condemned enforced disappearances, particularly in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, besides terming the interim government’s decision to deport Afghan refugees illegal.

Hibba, a volunteer, said, “While we witness and grieve the injustices in Palestine, we also look within our borders and want to empathise with the[victims of] injustices close to home. That is our responsibility as feminists to stand in solidarity with all oppressed groups, especially those that don’t get media coverage.”

The speakers said this year’s march would highlight these issues to create awareness among the public through educational art pieces and performances.

Published in Dawn, March 7th, 2024

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