Islamabad: The Awami Workers Party (AWP) organised various colourful programmes throughout the country to celebrate International Women’s Day.
It is worth mentioning here that no any other mainstream political party organised any event in this connection.
The AWP central leaders including President Fanoos Gujjar and woken secretary Aliya Bakhshal while addressing a conference at the Archives Hall, Peshawar reaffirmed their commitment to the cause of women emancipation and struggle for setting up an egalitarian society free from all kinds of exploitations, extremism, intolerance, and violence.
The event was attended by a large number of women, mostly families of the party leaders and workers and the women who lost their loved ones in the Peshawar Army Public School attack.
Women front of the party was launched at the conference amid revolutionary slogans and poems.
The event started with one minute silence in memory of the students and teachers killed in the Army Public School terrosit attack in December 2014.
The presidium and audience sang ‘Internationale’, the international anthem of workers.
AWP central secretary, women, Aliya Bakhshal presided over the event. AWP President Fanoos Gujjar was the chief guest. Federal Committee members Dr Farzana Bari, Central Deputy Secretary-General Ismat Shahjehan, the motivating force behind the formation of the front, AWP Punjab Deputy Secretary Aliya Amirali, Information Secretary F.Ali, came from Islamabad to attend the conference.
Comrade Abida Choudhry and Punjab women secretary Shazia Khan came from Lahore to attend the conference.
Prof Mairaj Khan and Nargis Khattak presented poems, paying tribute to the struggle of working women.
AWP president Fanoos Gujjar, KP women secretary Rehana Shakeel, KP Chapter President Shahab Khattak, Secretary General Haider Zaman and others also spoke on the occasion.
APS Martyrs Forum president also spoke on the occasion expressing her resolve to fight against the extremist elements and the imperialist force who are responsible for killing of 80,000 innocent people, including children and women.
In the end a 26-point charter of demand was endorsed by the participants demanding the federal and provincial governments and mainstream political parties to end discriminatory laws and ensure equal representation and participation of women in decision-making and policy-making process.
Charter of demand endorsed at the Women Conference
- We affirm our resolve to strive for establishing a socialist society free from all kinds of exploitations on the basis of gender, class, race and religion.
- “This conference asks the federal and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) governments to ensure provision of quality education, healthcare, job and social justice to the 960,000 women of Pakistan.
- This conference also demands the mainstream traditional parties to make women question as the cornerstone of their politics and ensure 33% representation of women in their party organizations and democratic institutions.
- We oppose religious extremism, terrorism, and war mongering as these affect women the most. We demand a paradigm shift in foreign policy and support friendly relations with the neighbouring countries based on peaceful co-existence and regional cooperation so that peace could prevail in the country in general and in KP and Fata in particular. The poverty-stricken children become fodder of extremism, violence and conflict, therefore violence and extremism should be stopped so that working class women could live a life with peace and free from fear.
- We demand judicial inquiry of the Army Public School incident and make public its findings.
- We demand NADRA and women commissions to review the census proforma and include housewive’s work, wages, assets, hereditary and voting rights in the census form so that real picture of the women could be obtained in terms of their democratic rights and their share in the economy. NADRA should ensure issuance of computerized National Identity Cards to about one million women and the Election Commission should include their names in the voters list before the 2018 elections.
- The conference is of the view that all languages should be given national languages status and children be given education in their mother languages at primary level.
- We demand equal wages for women, ban on forced labour, contractual system and regularization of all contract employees, social and legal protection to all working women in informal sector and application of labour laws on all working women, equal rights and protection to peasants like industrial workers, opening up of all employment opportunities to women and registration of all peasants and payment of minimum wages to them.
- Provision of education and health to all citizens is the constitutional responsibility of the state. AWP will oppose any legal or policy moves to privatise these services. We also demand a substantial improvement in service structures of employees in the two important sectors and oppose their transfers on political basis. Women teachers be posted in their home towns and districts.
- We demand setting up of a permanent pay and pension commission in KP to ensure payment of minimum wages in formal and informal sectors. We also demand an increase in minimum wages to Rs25,000 from Rs14,000 in the forthcoming budget.
- We demand the parliament to implement land reforms act 1976. We also appeal to the Supreme Court to decide the AWP petition on land reform without any further delay.
- We also demand abolition of Islamic Ideology Council and Federal Shariat Court which are impediment to democracy and struggle for setting up an egalitarian society and are playing major role in protecting the patriarchy system.
- We demand abolition of all discriminatory laws and institutions, especially family laws, law of hereditary, Hadood laws, and law of evidence. We support equal right of divorce and hereditary for women.
- We support the Election Act 2017 which makes 10% women vote as mandatory for giving legal and democratic credential to election results and demand the government to ensure its implementation and an increase in the voting threshold in future.
- We demand equal right of heritance for girls.
- We support merger of FATA into KP and demand immediate implementation of the decision and constitutional amendment in this regard to provide relief to the people of tribal areas.
- We condemn killing in the name of honour and consider it a non-compoundable crime. We also demand to declare domestic violence as cognizable crime and severe punishment for the crime.
- We support the Protection of Minorities Law 2015 passed by Sindh Assembly and oppose the moves to amend or weaken it. We also demand from the KP Assembly to pass a similar law for the protection of non-Muslim communities.
- We condemn kidnapping and forced marriage of Hindu and Christian girls with Muslim kidnappers. We also condemn under age forced convergence and marriage of non-Muslim girls and convergence of adult under duress as a crime against the fundamental human right.
- We condemn all tribal and feudal customs of giving young girls into marriages under Swara, Vanni and also oppose polygamy. We demand stricter measures to discourage these outdated customs.
- We oppose all forms of discriminatory laws on the basis of gender and class and alternative justice system such as panchayat and jirgas and demand to include Swara, Vanni, Karo-Kari and Ghaig in the list of crime against state.
- We demand the federal and provincial governments to cut non-development expenditure and increase budgetary allocation for education to 10 per cent and for health 6% and of housing units to 5% and restore subsidy on gas, electricity and train fair.
- We demand the provincial and federal governments to take measures for the betterment of women and set up mother and child care centre, maternity homes and child daycare centres in rural areas and suburbs of cities as well as provision of tap water facilities for rural women.
- We demand the federal government to increase production of gas and domestic use of gas to save forests from extinction and provide relief to rural women from fetching firewood from far flung areas. We demand from the provincial government to protect the rights of small growers and peasants, especially those in Buner, Shangla and Swat in forest share.
- This conference demands from the federal government to double the number of schools in Fata for boys and girls set up at least two colleges each in every district and two universities, hostel for working women, mother and child care centre in every town and Nadra Mobile Teams in the tribal areas for providing CNICs to women.
- We also demand funds for the return and rehabilitation of people displaced by war and extremism.
- We also demand separate jail for women, increase in quota for women in police, bar and benches, setting up of crisis centres for women in every tehsil to provide shelter for vulnerable women.
- We also demand concrete security measures for the protection of women polio volunteers
- We also demand separate libraries, sports and entertainment facilities for women.
Another conference was held at Hyderabad, Sindh under the Naari Democratic Front which was attended by a large number of women featuring speeches and skits highlighting the importance of the day, plight of women and depicting the party’s struggle for setting up a society free from exploitation and discriminiation on the basis of gender, class, race, ethnicity and religion.
Another conference was held at Aliabad Hunza District in Gilgit-Baltistan to celebrate women day. A large number of women activists from Gojal, Upper Hunza, Shiinaki (Lower Hunza) and participated in the event. Noted poet Sherbaz Khan, AWP Hunza District Organiser Ikram Jamal, AWP Gojal Tehsil leaders, Akhon Bai, Muhammad Ramazan, Muhammad Rafi and others spoke on the occasion. Sher Baz read his poems.
Conferences and discussions in connection with the International Women Day were also held at Kabirwala, Lodhran, Toba Teh Singh and other twons of Saraiki Waseeb which were addressed by AWP Punjab President Asim Sajjad, Central Women Secretary Aliya Bakhshal and local leaders.