LAHORE: Women old and young from all walks of life took to the streets here in the provincial capital on Thursday, as part of an ‘Aurat March’ organised to commemorate the International Women’s Day.
A large number of women, as well as some men, gathered at the Hamdard Centre in the afternoon from where they walked towards the Lytton road, finally ending their protest march at the Charing Cross in front of the Punjab Assembly.
Organised by independent women’s organisations and women from the progressive parties, the march included representatives from the Awami Workers Party, the Feminist Collective, the Women’s Collective and Girls at Dhabas.
The Aurat March was originally an event slated for Karachi, where it also took place yesterday under the leadership of Shima Kirmani and independent rights organisation ‘Hum Aurtain’. The idea was then picked up by similar women’s rights organisations and progressive forums who emulated the protest in Lahore and Islamabad.
While the numbers were not as high in Lahore as they were in Karachi, there was still a significant presence that made its way to show their solidarity.
A number of prominent personalities and celebrities also released social media messages to encourage women to come out and lead up to the march. Many of them also participated in Thursday’s event.
Bearing banners and chanting slogans, the crowd steadily swelled as the march gained momentum, with numerous groups of demonstrators joining in at different points.
The women’s march covered a total distance of 3.5 km before ending in a small demonstration near the Charing Cross where the protesters dispersed.
According to the organisers of the event, the goal was to get women to come out on the streets and help them reclaim public spaces. They said they were marching in solidarity with women all over the country, and globally, to celebrate the women’s struggle and to make a promise together to carry the torch of resistance until women were treated equally in the society.
“We are not just demanding safety, rights and justice, but are also trying to show resistance by reclaiming our spaces on the streets, which have been largely restricted to and occupied by men,” said one of the main organisers.
An open invitation was given to women from all over the city who arrived individually and in groups to make up the marching body. There was also a large representation from different schools, colleges and universities present on the occasion.