Monday, March 23, 2020


“The history of men's opposition to women's emancipation is more interesting perhaps than the story of that emancipation itself,” wrote Virginia Woolf in her essay A Room of One's Own published almost 100 years ago. The essay is among the most influential feminist texts which makes the case that women who wanted to write fiction needed two things: money and a room of their own, literally and figuratively.

We were reminded of Wolf once again as controversy brewed around the television drama serial, Meray Paas Tum Ho (MPTH). Had a woman written the series,  the narrative would not be replete with worn out tropes about women that in real life terms have very toxic and often violent outcomes. And while MPTH is not alone in churning stereotypes about virtue and vice in women, the popularity it gained among audiences across Pakistan means that hate against women was consumed hook, line and sinker. Those associated with the production claimed to have presented a positive portrayal of women through the narrative; in truth, the television serial was a representation of life seen through a man’s lens  and biases.

The protagonists in MPTH are a happily married couple with a son. They come across a man who is richer than the husband. The wife, who is super beautiful, is swept off her feet by the rich man. The wife — ‘greedy and materialistic as women are’ — eventually decides to abandon her husband and child and leave with the rich man.

This plotline is as old as Adam and Eve. There wasn’t anything unusual, exceptional or unique; it was very much in line with other dross that appears on the media. What drove audience numbers towards MPTH was controversy — after all bad publicity is also publicity and in MPTH’s case, viral publicity.

Much of the controversy centered on the writer of the series. In one morning, show, he spoke of what he believed to be the ‘worth’ of a woman. Another gem offered by the writer was how women can be equal to men if they started to kidnap and rape men. His real wrath was reserved, however, for feminists, who he described as an ‘organisation of bad women.’ With such provocative hot takes, the serial and its writer were the subject of discussion on social media for many weeks, creating hype around something that did not really deserve it.

To understand the kind of success it received, the channel broadcasting the serial decided to screen the last episode in cinema houses and it played to packed houses. Not that the last episode was worth the wait or the hype but the sold-out tickets, huge profits raked in, and millions of eyeballs captured, what should we gather?

Pakistan: Uks Research Resource & Publication Centre
Via Tasneem Ahmar 
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Thursday, March 12, 2020

Launching Statement | Feminist Coalition for the MENA Region Towards Beijing+25

12 March 2020 - We are activists and feminist groups from several countries across the MENA Region - Middle East & North Africa, who believe in the value of our solidarity, despite our different contexts we realize that we have common political, social and cultural aspects. We have witnessed the significant role of revolutions, uprisings and mobilizations, since the end of 2010 till present, to re-elaborate women demands and their relation with the public sphere, claiming their rights and gaining fights and battles in private sphere.

On the other hand, we cannot ignore the importance of the international advocacy as a tool to reach our demands neither the value of the international feminist solidarity because our movement and struggles are not isolated or far from the world and the international scene.

In 1995, Beijing International Conference was considered a turning point for the feminist movement and the women human rights defenders in our region, in regards to their tools and awareness as well as their ability to raise voice and address narratives. Consequently, there is no longer the "only one single" narration about women's lives and rights, rather opportunities were created to redress the misconceptions about women in the Region.

25 years after the beginning of such inspiring experiences and struggles, we decided to take off again together towards Beijing 25+, reviewing our situation, our issues, our tools, and our ability to work and reach what we want. Moreover, re-reading our contexts' transitions and its intersections with the world. We will restart without being isolated from our predecessors' efforts within the feminist movement to restore our narratives and voices into the international agenda but conscious where we are, to what extend our issues became excluded, and how the most of our voices were marginalized by numbers of reckonings and estimates. We are also got notified by the re-stereotypes of women's suffering and needs that shorthand our reality, having a deep faith in our joint hard work and in our ability to raise our voice and reach our agenda by our own selves, we are not waiting for anybody to talk on behalf.

Thus, we decided to launch the "Feminist Coalition for the MENA Region Towards Beijing 25+", with the aim to work on a feminist agenda that consider all political and social changes in the region and its impact on our contexts. Such agenda will be responsive to women's needs within that critical reality, focusing on three specific trends of the Beijing Platform action: violence against women and WHRDs (within the framework of Women Human Rights), women issues in conflict zones and ways to establish security. In the middle of violence, marginalization, distortino and constant targeting, we are looking for our voices and efforts to highlight our priorities during the upcoming Beijing Summit, while we are all convinced that there is always time and our path to Beijing is just the beginning towards a new turning point that conquers the women's suffering and all our predecessors' struggles within the feminist movement.

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7 Strategies to Prevent Violence Against Women

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Sunday, March 8, 2020

Moving Women Forward

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