Islamabad, Pakistan

Human rights activists demanded implementation of equal rights for women as guaranteed by the constitutions of most countries.They were speaking at the culmination event of ‘One Billion Rising’ (OBR) campaign in Pakistan on Wednesday.  The event was organised by One Billion Rising committee that includes Rozan and Insaan Foundation Trust that spearheaded the campaign in Pakistan beside Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO), Aurat Foundation (AF) and Black Box Communications.

The One Billion Rising Campaign is a global campaign, started by Eve Ensler in 2012. It is also a global demand to end violent practices that still exist in various forms in various societies all over the world.  In Pakistan, keeping in view the current increase in violent attacks against ethnic and religious minorities, the One Billion Rising campaign focused on the rising for a tolerant and inclusive Pakistan for all.

The culmination event was opened by South Asian Coordinator for the One Billion Rising Campaign and eminent feminist Kamla Bhasin. She shared with the participants in the most interactive manner the ways the One Billion Rising Campaign was changing mindsets as well as lives of individuals all over South Asia.  “The One Billion Rising ran simultaneously in 207 countries and was always linked to the indigenous issues of the specific country. It will not be the end of this campaign but we will keep repeating this campaign as we believe that the violence will increase with time,”  she said while talking to “The News”.  She said that this is not the fight between men and women but it is a conflict between two ideologies and mindset.  “One ideology is Patriarchy which believes that men are superior than women where as the other ideology advocate equality among men and women that is guaranteed in the constitution,” she added.

Kamla said that South Asian women are not less than the women of developed world.  “Things will change for the women of South Asia once our leaders would decide to implement the constitutions,” she added.  She agreed to the notion that women often act as enemy of women but said that they actually act as a tool to implement patriarchy.  “Women are from this society and they are considered protectors of the culture and tradition of inequality.”

While talking about the One Billion Rising journey in Pakistan, Farrah Taufiq shared that in Pakistan, the increase in the killings and targeted attacks has affected the entire nation in a devastating way and there is a growing need for pluralistic approaches to be initiated at all levels.

Khwendo Kor Chief Executive Maryam Bibi and politicians Bushra Gohar shed light on the efforts of women leaders for peace building in Pakistan.  They shared the history and key achievements of the women;s movement for this particular cause.

Romana Bashir spoke on the impact of the current scenarios on non-Muslims and discussed the various dynamics and factors that are currently in effect while Naseer Memon from SPO blamed hate speech imbedded in sermons of religious clerics, responsible segments of media and school curriculum as root cause of terrorism in the society.

This was followed by a talk by Aurat Foundation Chief Operating Officer Naeem Mirza on the key strategies for combating Violence against Women.  He stressed for moving from awareness raising to accountability and implementation mechanisms.

Dr. Ambreen Ahmed concluded the panel discussion by sharing the imporatnce of individual ownership and small initiatives needed to win this fight against intolerance.

A musical performance and screening of the National Song for One Billion Rising, sung by Malhar Band was also part of the event, which focused on a transformative role of individuals from victims to active change agents in the society.

For more photos and updates from the ongoing campaign in Pakistan follow the movement at One Billion Rising: Pakistan on Facebook