Copy of Pakistan_Women_March_34028.jpg-c9503-1583661859530
Members of a civil society take party in a pro-women demonstration ahead of Women's Day in Peshawar, Pakistan, Saturday. Image Credit: AP

Islamabad: Various cities across Pakistan marked International Women’s Day on Sunday with the ‘Aurat March’, with participants demanding basic rights for women in each field of life.

The first Aurat March was held in 2018 in Karachi. Last year, it was extended to more cities, including Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Larkana and Hyderabad, reports Dawn news.

This year the march is being held in Lahore, Multan, Quetta, Islamabad and Karachi.

In Lahore, the participants carried placards and chanted slogans calling for the independence of women.

Besides the main march in Islamabad, female members of the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) held another rally outside the National Press Club. JI chief Sirajul Haq was expected to address the gathering.

The Aurat March, as it has come to be known since its first iteration in 2018, was organised by Hum Aurtain (We Women) - a feminist collective.

Various politicians have also shared messages for International Women’s Day, said the Dawn news report.

President Arif Alvi quoted Pakistan’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah as saying: “Power of women is greater than the pen and sword.”

Prime Minister Imran Khan said that observing International Women’s Day is a “reiteration of our commitment to undertake every possible effort to ensure equal rights and opportunities to our women”.

“I reaffirm my pledge on this day to take all measures that would help our women to lead a safe, secure and prosperous life,” he added.

In his message on the occasion, PML-N President and Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif said that under former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s leadership, the party had always taken steps for the protection and promotion of women.

He added that if given the opportunity to be in the government again, they will take “historic steps” for women’s education, health and economic betterment.

Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari said that on the occasion, women in Pakistan will be marching to “demand their rights in accordance with our religion Islam, as enshrined in our Constitution and in the commitments made by successive governments through ratification of international human rights conventions”.

She said that the right to peaceful protest is a “democratic right and women cannot be denied it”.