Islamabad - National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage, Lok Virsa opened a two-day Family Mela here yesterday featuring art and craft and informative material stalls to highlight women’s issues in connection with International Women’s Day celebrations.

The event includes artisans-at-work exhibition, display of arts and crafts by women artisans, cultural performances, discussions and seminars on women’s issues. Ministry of Human’s Rights and Lok Virsa jointly arranged the two-day family event where there is food, fun and education to highlight women’s struggle across Pakistan and acknowledge their efforts in various fields.

A seminar on “Developing A Discourse on Indigenous Feminism” will be held on March 5 highlighting the achievements of women in various fields.

At the festival of Basant on 6th March at Lok Virsa, families are invited while the Lok Virsa will have special instructors to teach women how to fly kites and enjoy this sports. The Basant Festival features food, music, kites and yellow chunri stalls to mark the spring season. A music concert for women in the open air theater will be held on March 13th in which the young women singers will pay tribute to the legendary women singers and highlight their life time achievements.

Lok Virsa has always been in the front row for any initiative that leads to the empowerment of women , says ED Lok Virsa, Fouzia Saeed.

International Women’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. It is an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.

The day is celebrated globally to mark the struggle for women’s rights, celebrate the successes and build solidarity for the struggles that need to be done in the future. This year’s theme for international women’s day is art and culture.

Lok Virsa being a national premier institute of culture, with history of four decades, embodies the identity of a keeper of traditional culture and folklore. In year 2016 Lok Virsa intends to celebrate the International Women’s Day on the 12th - 13th of March and unleash the power of culture.

It will encourage women to reclaim the progressive spaces provided within the culture and use this day as a step forward into this process.

For long, traditional culture has been abused to restrain and suppress women. Crimes against women were legitimized in the name of honor and tradition. Women were restricted from utilizing their abilities in public life in the name of their “traditional role” and society stayed silent at heinous atrocities, protecting, so to speak, “sanctity of feminine”.

What people do not realize is that traditional culture requires pruning all the time. Strange practices, that violate women’s rights, need to be rooted out like unwanted wild weeds from the desired plants.

Interestingly, enough women have been repositories of traditional culture and folklore throughout South Asia. They have been keepers of rituals, folk songs, language, clothing, foods, relationships and many other aspects. They have played an important role in continuation of cultural identity in a society. However, when it comes to their own rights and breathing space, the society uses the same culture as a beating stick.

Women have the same cultural rights to enjoy creativity, performing arts, esthetics and means of expression as anyone else in a society. But these areas get stigmatize when it comes to women, sometimes in the name of morality and sometimes as a means for their `protection’, she added.