Women Movement in SAARC Countries The geo-cultural region of SAARC comprising c, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. These countries linked together by age-old cultural, social and historical traditions and commonalities that constitute solid foundations for regional cooperation to address the economic and social needs of people, especially, women and girls.
South Asia stands out as having experienced the longest, largest and most mass-based nationalist movement, and one that involved extensive participation of women. Women were often active for the first time in politics. The first national political parties were formed out of the movements throughout South Asia, and women were often prominent within them.
Women Movement in Pakistan WOMEN played a major role in the Pakistan Movement Political Movement Khilafat Movement of the 1920s: Maulanas Shaukat Ali and Mohammed Ali in jail, their mother, Bi Amman, had taken up the cudgels against British imperialism Khilafat Movement demanded contributions from its supporters, the women came forward and gave up their jewellery, that being their only worldly possession
Quaid-e-Azam Muslim women's participation in the Muslim League Lucknow in 1937 that he called for the creation of a Women's Wing of the Muslim League, but it remained dormant till the Patna Session of the Muslim League in 1938 March 23, 1940, the women's section of All-India Muslim League held its annual session at the Islamia College for Girls, Lahore The first pertaining to the Muslim League called for the women to work amongst their friends and acquaintances and rally them to the Muslim League, and help the Party organize sub-committees in towns and rural areas
The second resolution called on Muslim men to help Muslim women get the legal rights which were rightfully theirs under the Shariat, but which they had been denied Baji Rashida Latif, who was also a member of the Legislative Assembly, declared in her speech that "capitalists" had deprived Muslim women of their rights. She must have been referring to the inheritance of property which continued to be denied to Muslim women in Punjab November, 1942, the Quaid was invited by the Punjab Girl Students Federation to come to the Jinnah Islamia Girls College and address the girls
In his speech he said: I am glad to see that not only Muslim men but Muslim women and children also have understood the Pakistan scheme. No nation can make any progress without the co-operation of its women. Liaquat Ali Khan had Rana Liaquat by his side. The message was loud and clear: women should come out of their seclusion and be equal partners in the social and political life of the country. He is quoted as having declared that the Muslim nation could not progress or free itself unless women were its equal partners.
Women acquired voting rights in the process of waging a political struggle for Pakistan. There is no evidence of a war between the genders because both were caught in a common struggle, and were supportive of each other. After independence, elite Muslim women in Pakistan continued to advocate women's political empowerment through legal reforms. They mobilized support that led to passage of the Muslim Personal Law of Sharia in 1948, which recognized a woman's right to inherit all forms of property. They were also behind the futile attempt to have the government include a Charter of Women's Rights in the 1956 constitution. Nusrat Bhutto wife of Prime Minister Zulfikhar Ali Bhutto, led the Pakistani delegation to the United Nations' first women's conference in 1975
The 1961 Muslim Family Laws Ordinance covering marriage and divorce, the most important socio-legal reform that they supported, is still widely regarded as empowering to women Hudood Ordinances :The decade of the 1980s has truly been a decade of the women of Pakistan. A powerful women’s movement made a dramatic impact on Pakistan’s political scene. The concrete achievements of the women’s movement in its struggle against policies of General Zia’s military regime which were directed against women in the name of Islamisation, have not been inconsiderable. Women’s Action Forum (WAF) All Pakistan Women’s Association (APWA) the Democratic Women’s Association
In 1988, Benazir Bhutto (Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's daughter) became the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan, and the first woman elected to head a Muslim country. She voiced concerns over social issues of women, health and discrimination against women. She also announced plans to set up women's police stations, courts and women's development banks. She also promised to repeal controversial Hudood laws that curtailed the rights of women However, during her two incomplete terms in office (1988–90 and 1993–96), Benazir Bhutto did not propose any legislation to improve welfare services for women. She was not able to repeal a single one of Zia-ul-Haq's Islamisation laws.
July 2006, 2006, the Pakistani parliament passed the Women's Protection Bill, repealing some of the Hudood Ordinances. The bill allowed for DNA and other scientific evidence to be used in prosecuting rape cases, The passing of the Bill and the consequent signing of it into law by President General Pervez Cabinet has approved reservation of 10% quota for women in Central Superior Services in its meeting held on 12 July. In December 2006, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz approved the proposal by Ministry of Women Development, to extend this quota to 10%. In 2006, The Protection of Women (Criminal Laws Amendment) Act was also passed. In December 2006, for the first time, women cadets from the Military Academy Kakul assumed guard duty at the mausoleum of Muhammad Ali Jinnah
President, Asif Ali Zardari on 29 January 2010 signed the 'Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Bill 2009' which the parliament adopted on 21 January 2010. Dr.Fehmida Mirza is the first female speaker of the National Assembly of Pakistan. Other prominent female Pakistani politicians include Begum Nasim Wali Khan, Raja Farzana, Syeda Abida Hussain, Sherry Rehman and Tehmina Daultana. Hina Rabbani Khar became the first Minister of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan in 2011 Women should be given proper education and training. They should known what life is and how it should be lived. Educated women can do much to reform the society. Many disturbances in the society is created by those anti-social persons, who were brought up by wrong hands. In modern age, women are going very well in all the fields of progress. They are demonstrating their talents in best. They are serving as teachers, doctors, Engineers, Administrators and even head of the states. The literacy rate among the women so in Pakistan is very low. The need is to increase this ratio. More education among the women means the more progress of the society
Women Movement in Bangladesh The state of Pakistan came into being on August 14, one day before India became an independent state. Pakistan itself split into two after a civil war, with east Pakistan becoming the independent state of Bangladesh in 1971. In the years since independence, Bangladesh, has sought to ground itself in a national rather than an Islamic identity.
Bangladesh's constitution is avowedly secular and its civil code is based on laws inherited from the British. The government of Bangladesh has implemented specific legal protections for women, including the 1980 Anti-dowry Prohibition Act The 1983 Cruelty to Women Law (US Government 1996). Bangladesh has also passed laws protecting women from arbitrary divorce and from husbands taking additional wives without the consent of the first wife. These protections only apply to registered marriages and, in rural areas where most Bangladesh is live, few marriages are registered.
In the communal divide that convulsed India in 1947 urban, middle class women such as Lila Nag, Ashalata Sen and other members of neighborhood samitis formed in Dhaka during the civil disobedience movement crossed the religious divide and worked together with Sufia Kamal and others who had migrated from Calcutta. Together in Dhaka they sheltered Hindu victims of communal violence, set up a secular school and campaigned for communal harmony. In the sixties, as the language movement was reinforced by a growing consciousness of economic exploitation and political disenfranchisement in East Bengal, women activists challenged the government ban on broadcasting Tagore songs on TV and radio and women newscasters from wearing a traditional teep on the forehead. Government suppression of the right to a national language, to their culture, to their land was reason enough to engage with the growing political resistance but women also saw the bans as a denial of their personal autonomy.
Women came into secular, progressive movements from separate streams. Cultural activists, older members of urban, neighborhood samitis from politically conscious, educated bhadrolok families and women students mainly from the left, Marxist groups came together to form the Mohila Porishod, which was backed by the Communist Party. The kinship links of its members contributed to its ideological moorings, which were anchored within secular, progressive politics. Women were also active in peasant movements. Ila Mitra and Hena Das led the Tebhagha movement in North West Bengal and tea garden workers in Sylhet. They worked at the grass roots and had to face prison sentences along with their male colleagues. If the “woman question” surfaced in their internal discourse, a conscious reference to gender oppression and gendered politics did not enter the public debate until later. So that in public accounts or in public statements by women leaders the subjective remained invisible.
Sectarian and communal politics were super scripted over secular and democratic constitutional principles, following a military coup in the mid seventies. Between 1977 and 1987 when fundamental constitutional amendments were imposed by two military dictators (General Ziaur Rahman and General Ershad) religion became a weapon of political control. Official patronage paved the way for mosque led political propaganda, resurrection of a communal leadership and a proliferation of madrassahs, whose students became ready foot soldiers in political and communal conflicts. The threat of Islamisation prompted many women’s groups, along with religious minorities and liberal groups into street protests and to seek justice in the court. While women joined the protests in large numbers, Nari Pokkhyo, a small women’s group, filed a class action in the High Court against the Eight Constitutional Amendment because it denied constitutional guarantees of equality. The question has been evaded as hearings were never held. An attempt to introduce Arabic in educational curriculums met with strong resistance from students who were supported by progressive women’s groups.
While religion became an arbiter of social and gender controls, women’s labour became critical to Bangladesh’s entry into global markets in the eighties. Strategies for micro- credit and contraceptive technologies were eagerly taken on by governments and disseminated through a mushrooming of internationally funded NGOs to poor women. At the same time their role as drivers of an export led economy created a scope for proletarianization of women workers. Bangladesh interpreted the international discourse on women’s integration into development through a hierarchical, male dominated government bureaucracy. The first UN Conference on Women in 1975 had identified under-development with the invisibility of women’s economic contribution, while at the second UN Conference in Nairobi in 1985 third world women critiqued the effects of structural adjustments and the market economy on their lives. In Bangladesh, women’s labour made a major contribution to two major foreign exchange earners-garments ad shrimp exports. But there entry into the market offered no improvement in the quality of their life nor in the security of their livelihood. On the contrary, salination of the South West due to shrimp enclosures endangered traditional livelihoods threatened the appropriation of farm lands. A strong resistance of village women who had carried out subsistence agriculture on Polder 22 of Herinkhola in Paikgachha led to a direct conflict with the shrimp lord. Korunomoyee, a woman farmer, was brutally killed on November 7, 1989 by armed gangs, employed by the shrimp lord as she led the procession. She became the symbol of resistance to the ravaging of the environment by an export economy and her death anniversary is commemorated by villagers in front of a mural dedicated to her courage.
Media reportage of violence against women within the household and outside, around the mid-eighties, politicized the issue, women activists were able to articulate a human rights perspective. Women friendly legal aid and human rights organizations mobilized around legal reform, law enforcement to make women conscious of their rights. They then protected women’s interests in marital disputes by intervening in traditional mediation councils. Their efforts were directed to persuading traditional village leadership to accept gender equality in relations of marriage, property and inheritance rather than turn to unfair customary or religious practices of hilla marriage or dowry. Since the early seventies Mahila Parishad had proposed reform of personal laws and political participation, demands that have now become near universal amongst women’s groups. The courts became the site for redressing gender injustice. Sensational cases of domestic violence such as Rima’s murder by her husband (in a well known middle class family) forced feminists to evaluate the deep rooted causes of violence in the politics of gender imbalance. Growing evidence of violence in the public sphere and in the work place, or violence against political rivals provoked us to question the role of the state in perpetuating gender hierarchies. Women’s protests became more focused on issues of security and rights and led to the formation of the Oikkyo Boddho Nari Samaj. Campaigns for a uniform family code and laws to criminalize dowry, polygamy gained ground. The government responded with cosmetic changes in an anti-dowry law that failed to address the economic and social basis of inequality. Inability to understand the reality of women’s lives allowed for the persistence of archaic, discriminatory inheritance laws. A similar short sighted approach has led governments to criminalizing the symptoms rather than addressing it as a consequence of social, legal and economic injustice.
The traditional arbitration courts which are the main judicial bodies in Bangladeshi villages usually base their decisions on local custom rather than statutory law. Women are almost always represented before such courts by their male kin. Some local communities have started turning to Islamist mullahs to rule on their disputes according to sharia. In such areas, the populace has more respect for the mullahs than for the state police or judiciary ("Women Feel Sting of Sharia Bangladeshi 'Courts' Targeting Feminists � 1995.)