International Women’s Day: Aurat Azadi March Pakistan 2019

This year on International Women’s Day thousand of women marched in different cities of Pakistan holding placard and poster for their rights and freedom. The sentences written on those placard made the march controversial for a lot of people. People have started criticizing the march by saying that instead of highlighting the real issues faced by women they are shaming feminism and even don’t know anything about what feminism is in literal sense.

Now let's discuss the real issue here before getting into conclusion. Feminism started back in 19th century. They have been demanding their real rights and talking about real issues since then, but we never accepted that. When they were talking about their right of equality we said men are stronger than women, when they asked for equality in education we said it’s men’s responsibility to feed and look after the family, when they asked for the right to vote ( suffragist movement )we denied that. Every time they talked about real issues we tried to negotiate with illogical reasons and patriarchal mindset. Now feminists are talking about radical and unthinkable ideas which will result in negotiations, while negotiating they will get the real issues solved.

A lot of people have been sharing the above picture on social media this year, but if you go one year back the same people were criticizing the same narrative, because that was the most radical one during previous year’s Aurat Azadi March. This time feminists have gone more radical and patriarchal mindsets are willing to accept the ones which were rejected by the male dominated society previous year .

Now let’s discuss why it is so. There is concept in political theory developed by Joseph P. Overton called “Overton Window” that is “The Overton window is the range of ideas tolerated in public discourse, also known as the window of discourse.” according to wikipedia.

“Equal rights for women” was never an acceptable policy in patriarchal societies or it was outside male dominated society’s overton window, that was the reason that feminists started the movement . Their main purpose was to move the overton window where equality of gender will be a policy. There are two methods to move overton window ; first one , to move it while living inside, telling people about right and wrong, work on awareness, work on people to change their mental perspective. This one is very difficult and takes a lot of time.

Second option is as Overton argued that the easiest way to move that window is to force people to consider ideas at the extremes, as far away from the window as possible. Because forcing people to consider an unthinkable idea, even if they rejected it, would make all less extreme ideas seem acceptable by comparison — it would move the “window” slowly in that direction.

I looked at this year’s Aurat Azadi March with this perspective and I don’t care whether they were displaying those placard under this strategy or for some other reason but they succeeded in moving the overton window in the right direction and that is what all of us want.

More power to the women who are marching for their rights.


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