LAHORE: The National Feminist Convening brought in a vast number of feminists and human rights defenders from all over the country, into a diversified medium to discuss on various issues women still face in the current Pakistani society.
Organised by ShirkatGah the convening was more than just a gathering of like-minded women rights activists it was a colourful spectrum of women from all walks of life celebrating achievements and discussing ways to go forward.
The two days convening will highlight on topics focusing on women in arts, politics, law, labour rights, gender specific issues etc.
The first day of the convening solely focused on thematic sessions where participants identified key issues faced by women, furthermore the discussion highlighted various ways on how to replace the existing situation and to formulate recommendations in order to achieve the needed changes.
The sessions discussed on the various types of gender related issues which is still present in Pakistan and how it is still portrayed on several platforms including the media, education, on the streets, how women face challenges in the digital spaces. The discussions also focused on finding solutions to such issues.
The topics discussed included, the politics of Respectability and Misogyny; Occupying online and offline spaces to reshape the public and private; Feminist creative expressions: alternative narratives and social, political, market and self-censorship; The gendered labour dynamics in a neoliberal militarised world; Demarginalising the intersections of religion, ethnicity and ability; The violence of being the ‘other’ in patriarchy; Displacement, land rights and the politics of space.
In the session Feminist creative expressions: Alternative narratives and social, political, market and self-censorship a vast number of writers, poets and journalists from all over Pakistan participated to promote an alternative feminist narratives and the challenges they face as writers artist and National College of Arts dean Ms. Farida Batool, writer and poetess Ms. Azra Abbas, daughter of renowned writer Fehmida Riaz, Ms. Shazia Batool, Huma Safdar, Khatak dancer Amna Mawaz, WAF founding member Riana Taufiq and many more.
The discussion highlighted on the various challenges women have faced over time when it comes to creative writing and expressionism in art. This discourse has been happening over time and a certain kind of expectation is expected from them whereas when it comes to men they can openly write without any restrictions.
This kind of creative declining has extended to various artistic forms, where creative work is expected from women but in a very well defined limit as to how far they can go. The discussion went on talking about how women in the 80s during Zia’s time wrote many artistic work which was one of the times where they actually worked on their expressionism
Furthermore, it was also discussed how female writers from the past have faced challenges and were not even allowed to write due to familial and societal pressures. Many of them used pen names and many people have no clue how many female writers have contributed in ‘Urdu Adab’.
However, these female writers’ names have disappeared and remains unknown since most of their work was never archived, the participants discussed how important it is to preserve literature.
The discussion further highlighted that many seasoned feminists during the 80s wrote many poems and expressed the social stigma and challenges they faced during that time. Fehmida Riaz and Parveen Shakir’s name and their work was discussed especially how they managed to pen down their feelings
During the thematic session it was also pointed out that, it is not necessary that women can only speak on feminist issues, women can discuss and write about various social, political, philosophical issues they should not be underestimated or closed in one subject or symbolism or subaltern.
Similarly, the participants also discussed on the economical perspective of female creative writers, performers, etc. where most of them are still facing hardships and challenges due to the lack of job creativity in the society.
At the end of the discussion, the participants exalted the idea of creating a virtual museum an archive of all the female artists, writers, poets, singers, musicians, painters’ work that needs to be preserved and celebrated for their contributions in the arts and performing arts. Suggestions and recommendations were given such as: students should be involved to do comprehensive research on the past female poets, writers and those whose work has not yet been discovered.