WDF calls for centering progressive feminist agenda in PDM’s Programme.
The Women Democratic Front (WDF) welcomes the formation of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) by mainstream opposition parliamentary parties to counter the increasing control of the militablishment over all state organs, media, economy, and society and unleashing repressive policies against political and rights activists and vulnerable segments of society.
This policy has led to absolving the state from fulfilling its primary responsibility of protecting fundamental rights of citizens and providing them with basic needs.
In a joint statement, WDF President Ismat Shahjahan, General Secretary Alya Bakhshal and Secretary Information Tooba Syed said that the WDF leadership endorses the 26-point declaration of the PDM for democratizing the state and society.orse the programme that aims to end the current authoritarian governance system that has undermined the supremacy of the constitution, parliament, independence of judiciary, and fragmented the democratic federalism.
We at WDF, also support the charter to change the appointment of judges and put an end to the authoritarian judicial tendencies, political repression, enforced disappearances, muzzling of the dissenting voices in academia, media and politics, as well as national oppression, manipulation of electoral process.
However, the WDF leadership is of the view that a truly democratic state and egalitarian society cannot be established without centering the agenda of structural changes in socio-political system, redistribution of wealth, resources and power as well as abolition of discriminatory policies along gender, national, racial, class, and religious lines.
More importantly, a state cannot be called ‘democratic’ where half of the population — the women — is deprived of its fundamental democratic and economic rights facing slavery-based division of labour, stark gender inequalities, injustices, discrimination, the patriarchal violence and sex crimes.
Religious extremism has spread like an endemic, creating a national crisis in Pakistan, where vast majority of victims are working class women and children, oppressed nations, religious minorities and gender minorities. We must make the state act responsibly and be accountable for gender equality, the safety of women and children and guarantee their right to life and dignity!
We are strongly concerned at the inaction of the state organs, flawed policy and legal narrative as the state does not acknowledge the structure of violence – patriarchy and its material base including feudalism and capitalism.
We, therefore, note that when it comes to the woman question, women emancipation is always compromised to patriarchal forces and apologists. In addition, most democratic governments have been focusing on changes in existing laws or brining new laws, and ignoring the enforcement aspect, patriarchal values and mindset which are so deeply entrenched in the system of justice, prosecution, investigation and legal system. Therefore women cannot benefit from these laws.
Conviction rate by courts is negligible that encourages patriarchal injustices and crimes. We have to go beyond laws and abolish the structures of patriarchy at state and society levels.
Therefore, any movement like the PDM can only be meaningful and successful when it truly mobilizes the women of Pakistan and includes the demands of the women movement struggling against feudal structures, imperialist war and toxic masculinity, religious extremism, and above all patriarchal violence and sexual barbarism.
Sadly, the criminal silence of most of the mainstream political parties on continued and coordinated attacks on women movement and Aurat Azadi Marches/Aurat Marches by the bigoted patriarchal forces is another issue of deep concern that not only undermines our struggle but also strengthens patriarchal forces within and outside the state.
Political parties will have to decide which side of the fence they are sitting; it’s a defining moment for us in the fight against patriarchal oppression, brutal murders of women and gender minorities, widespread sex crimes such as harassment and rapes of women and children, femicides, and infanticides!
The most immediate issue requiring PDM’s attention is that feudalism, state patriarchy, religious extremism, culture, education system, courts, police, and the media together form a very strong intertwined and interlocking system of deep oppression that is steering the lives of millions of female population, our production and social relations. We cannot wait for another 73 years for “trickle-down” gendered gains of PDM’s charter.
We call upon the PDM leadership to make a commitment to women and gender minorities of Pakistan and include in the charter these points:
- Constitute a ‘new gender/social contract’ between women and gender minorities, and the state;
- Devise a ‘Gender Reform Action Plan’ to implement the new gender contract; and
- Arrange a series of special emergency sessions of the Senate, National Assembly and provincial assemblies to look into this longstanding issue;
- Formulate holistic and long-term way forward based on transformational policies along these lines that progressively alter the nature of existing gender order.
The WDF remains committed to supporting struggles for democracy and civilian rule. However, it urges the leadership of the PDM to build the movement from the perspectives of feminist resistances and trade union movements; peasants, students and national liberation struggles against authoritarian rule, quasi-democratic and judicial systems, religious extremism and imperialist war.
Issued by: Secretary Information
Women Democratic Front
WDF is a socialist-feminist political organisation, aiming to bring together struggles of women against all forms of patriarchy, capitalism, feudalism, national oppression, state oppression, war and terrorism, and religious extremism. We stand for women’s emancipation and social justice, people’s democracy, peace, secularism, and non-aligned foreign policy. We are not an NGO. We are a resistance movement running with membership fee, and we do not accept any financial support from any government/non-government agency within or outside Pakistan.