The day was marked by street rallies, conferences, award ceremonies, protests and lengthy statements from world leaders, human rights campaigners and others.
Social media was flooded with messages from netizens, highlighting the importance of acknowledging and celebrating the achievements of women and addressing the challenges that persist.
In Western countries, the day is marked every year with tremendous fanfare, even though terms like ‘women’s empowerment’ and ‘women’s rights’ have different connotations there, which most often are not in sync with the ideas of empowerment, freedom and rights in our part of the world.
In Middle East and South Asia, the day often reminds of women’s day-to-day struggles and the kind of insurmountable odds they have to overcome to achieve their dreams.
In most of these countries, the challenges facing women are primarily because of foreign invasions, military occupations, age-old stereotypes and denial of basic rights.
Yet, these gritty women have smashed odds and made their presence felt in different spheres.
“Happy International Women’s Day for Palestinian women who have fought Israeli apartheid, brutality, and aggression with their bare hands,” tweeted ‘Women for Palestine’, with hashtag #FreePalestine.
It is pertinent to note that women in Palestine have been at the forefront of struggle for liberation of occupied territories from Zionists. They have paid the heavy price of defiance but haven’t given up.
In Afghanistan, where the U.S.-led war and occupation has stretched into its 18th year, women have over the years broken the shackles of patriarchy and become a force to reckon with.
“Happy International Women’s Day, especially to brave Afghan women that have been bearing the brunt of political shenanigans, primitive culture and senseless war for decades in Afghanistan,” wrote a Twitter user Fatima.
Many Afghan women took to Twitter and Facebook on Friday to speak against the lack of women’s representation in ongoing ‘peace negotiations’ between Taliban and U.S. officials.
In an interview with Tehran Times last week, former Afghan parliamentarian Farkhunda Zahra Naderi said lack of women’s participation in the peace process will render it useless and ineffective.
In Pakistan, International Women’s Day was marked by nationwide ‘Aurat March’ (women’s march) on Friday, the objective of which was to celebrate the achievements of women and protest against the continued violence against them.
“Happy International Women’s Day to all the wonderful women around the world. These two strong and incredible women whom I adored the most. Epitome of women struggle in Pakistan are missed immensely today,” tweeted Ariba Jalbani, sharing pictures of former Pakistani premier Benzair Bhutto and human rights activist Asma Jehangir, both of whom were killed by terrorists.
Meanwhile, Krishna Kumari Kohli, a lower-caste Hindu woman elected as Pakistan’s senator chaired a session of the Pakistani parliament to commemorate the International Women’s Day.
In India, where #MeToo movement grabbed headlines recently, in which many women came out with harrowing stories of sexual harassment at workplace, the day was observed quietly.
However, in a startling move, India’s Supreme Court granted bail to Babu Bajrangi, who had been convicted for his involvement in anti-Muslim pogrom in Indian state of Gujarat in 2002.
“Babu Bajrangi getting bail today is the best tribute our judiciary can pay to women on the eve of International Women’s Day. Well done, India,” tweeted Bobby Naqvi, editor at GulfNews.
In Yemen, women continue to press for their participation in peace negotiations between the various warring factions.
“Women & children make up 75% of internally displaced people in Yemen and yet have no voice in peace negotiation. On #InternationalWomensDay help lift their voices,” tweeted one Maysam Ali.
In Saudi Arabia, women have been silently suffering for decades, as they are denied basic rights and their voices are muzzled with coercion and intimidation by the Kingdom’s rulers.
Many women are languishing in jails without trail. On Friday, Walid Alhathloul wrote an article in The Guardian, calling for the release of his sister from Saudi captivity.
“International Women’s Day, we celebrate the many achievements of women and stand together to demand equal rights,” he wrote. “My sister, Loujain, is one of these brave gender equality activists – and for that she is now in jail. She has dedicated her life to gaining basic women’s rights in our home country of Saudi Arabia, focusing mainly on the women’s driving ban, male guardianship and domestic abuse.”
Alhathloul said her sister has spent the last 10 months in a Saudi jail and has been subjected to “brutal torture and sexual harassment”.
“This International Women’s Day, support the fierce women who are challenging the status quo in Saudi Arabia & have lost their freedom because of it. Make a fierce choice, fight with them,” tweeted Amnesty.
In Kashmir, women have been the worst victims of conflict over the past thirty years. There are thousands of widows and half-widows (women whose husbands disappeared) today.
“What can one say on Women’s International Day when average Kashmir women’ life, their children, their home and hearth, their privacy, their dignity, their calm, their safety and security all lie in tatters,” wrote Prof. Hameeda Nayeem, a prominent civil society activist in Indian-held Kashmir on her Facebook.
“I could only pray to God to liberate us from the current situation so that we could also sing songs in unison with the free and advanced women of the world,” she added.
- source : Tehrantimes