Illuminating Change: Empowering Women And Ending Violence in Pakistan

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Imagine the sun setting over the ancient Mohenjo Daro (also written as Mohen-jo-Daro) in Sindh, Pakistan, where history whispers tales of resilience. Now, picture this legendary site lit up in orange, symbolizing hope and a future free from violence. 

This captivating scene is part of the UN Women’s “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence” campaign, a movement supported by the Government of Japan.

Whispers of empowerment at Moenjo Daro

The backdrop of Mohenjo Daro not only connects us with the past but also serves as a powerful reminder that the fight for women’s rights is timeless. Dr. Shakir Shah, the Director of Mohenjo Daro, welcomed the campaign, highlighting its strategic and culturally sensitive approach to address gender-based violence. This initiative is more than a modern-day concern; it’s a thread woven into the fabric of our history, he said.

Global Movement: 16 Days of Activism

The campaign, spanning from November 25 to December 10, is not just another movement. It’s a global call to action against violence on women, beginning on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and ending on Human Rights Day. This timeframe emphasizes that violence against women is a violation of the most fundamental human rights.

Nasir Aftab Pathan, DIG Larkana, a community leader, expressed his honor in supporting the campaign. 

“I am honored to support the UN Women’s 16 Days Campaign at Mohenjo Daro. As DIG Larkana, I believe in the power of collective action to address gender-based violence and create a safer community for all,” he stated.

The statistics shared by UN Women add urgency to this cause. As per this data, In Pakistan, 24.5% of women face violence from their sexual intimate partners, and a staggering 18.3% become victims of child marriages. These numbers highlight the critical need for impactful campaigns like #KoiJawazNahi to raise awareness and spark change.

Heart and soul of the campaign

Ms Nabila Malik, Head of Communications and Partnership, UN Women, interacting with the audience after a play (Photo credits: Waqas Rabbani @JustAPakistaniGamer on YouTube)

Now, let’s delve into the heart of the campaign – #KoiJawazNahi, which communicates a powerful message: there’s no excuse for violence against women. As per Ms Nabila Malik:

“Aurat kay khilaf tashadud namanzor hai. Or jo aurat per tashadud karta hai wo bahadur nahi hai, wo mard nahi hai. Humari civilization humein ye sikhati hai kay humara mard wo hai jo aurat ko tahaffuz de.” 

[Violence against women is unacceptable. Anyone who perpetrates violence against women is not brave, not a real man. Our civilization teaches us that a true man is the one who provides protection to women.]

Streets Alive with Empowerment

Launched earlier at Mohenjo Daro, the campaign has journeyed through Quetta, Peshawar, and Islamabad over the past few days. 

The ingenious concept involves illuminating historical structures with the color orange, symbolizing a brighter, violence-free future. It’s a visual symphony painting a picture of hope across our heritage.

The campaign not only lights up the cities but also brings the streets alive with a powerful street theater performance. This narrative revolves around the economic stability of women, showcasing tales of empowerment. Women, supported by UN Women’s economic empowerment initiative, have turned their lives around, proving that change is possible.

Cast of the play: Salma Mir, Zainab binte Talha, Mahwish binte Qayyum, Daud Hashmi, Babar Waheen (R to L) (Photo credits: Waqas Rabbani @JustAPakistaniGamer on YouTube)

Supporting home-based workers

There is an accompanying exhibition that shines a spotlight on unsung heroes – home-based workers who have carved a path to financial independence. This powerful combination of art and activism amplifies the message – investing in preventing violence against women is a call for tangible action.

Ms. Sharmeela Rassool, the Country Representative of UN Women Pakistan, encapsulates the spirit of the initiative. According to her, “Investing to prevent violence against women is not just a theme; it’s a call for tangible action. By choosing Mohenjo Daro as the launch site, we emphasize the resilience of women throughout history and the need to protect their rights in the present day.” 

Exclusive video

(Video credits: Waqas Rabbani @JustAPakistaniGamer  on YouTube)

As we journey through the illuminated cities, witnessing the transformative power of art and activism, let’s embrace this year’s theme: “Invest to Prevent Violence Against Women & Girls.” It’s a rallying cry that transcends borders, resonating with the heartbeat of humanity.

In the coming days, let’s keep our eyes on the orange glow lighting up the night, not just as a symbol but as a promise – a promise of change, of empowerment, and a future where the answer to gender-based violence is unequivocally #KoiJawazNahi.

 

Fizza Abbas
Fizza Abbas
Fizza Abbas is a freelance journalist, guest lecturer, a published poet, and author of two poetry collections: Bakho and Ool Jalool. Her work has been nominated for Best of The Net and a finalist of Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition 2021. She hopes to get her poems published in 10,000 journals by the end of 2030. Besides writing, she runs an interview series for writers and zine editors on her YouTube channel (FizzaWrites). She can be reached at [email protected]. She tweets @fizzawrites.

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