Day 11 of #16DaysofActivism
By Johnny Fisher and Hazeen Latif
This year the UK celebrated 100 years of women being able to vote. Before that democracy was interpreted to mean “rule by the men” rather than “rule by the people”. This development has been repeated over and over again. Women around the world are be able to participate fully and equally in decision-making at community and national level. Sadly, in many communities, people are unaware of these national developments and the threat of violence is often used to prevent women from speaking out in public conversations.
In Pakistan women do participate in public life and Pakistan is one of an increasing number of countries to have had a female prime minister. But in some Pakistani communities it would be considered offensive for a woman to engage in influential conversations at community or family level. Women who try to do so face threats of violence and exclusion.
HCR supports a community-centred radio project in one such community. Community activists have worked together to get training and put community radio programmes on air. However, the participants in the radio work are all men. Women do participate in complementary off-air activities, and one lady, Zakia*, has been running health and hygiene workshops for women and girls. Another older lady in the community has offered her home for Zakia to run vocational groups for women and girls. The older lady said, “We have to do this, whatever the cost to me”. Inspired by this Zakia also spoke to an HCR associate about getting involved in radio. She realised it could be very dangerous for her as it might invite repercussions from the wider community. But she believes that radio by women and girls, for women and girls would extend the benefits of the workshops to more people. Zakia said to our associate, “Someone must stand up and speak, and I will do it”.
HCR is supporting women who want to engage in public life through radio. We are also speaking up for the many women whose voices are not heard because they have been intimidated into silence by the threat of violence.
*Not her real name