In the times when we constantly choose debate of racism over sexism, we deliberately ignore to address modesty culture. We ignore to highlight hijabification of women which is sort of a sexual annihilation of a gender comprising around 50 per cent of our population. According to an estimate, eight out of 10 abortion clinics in the US state of Texas have shut down, depriving women of their right to take decision about their bodies. At times when women have started believing in sisterhood, they are forced to go through virginity tests in many parts of the world. Understanding the importance of these unfair cultural burdens on womenI planned to attend the session, “Feminism and Global Politics,” organized under the shelter of Lahore Literary Festival 2016.

After surviving a nerve-wrecking battle with extremist factions, managerial glitches and local bodies, the festival kicked off yesterday morning. Contrary to what was expected from the festival, the organisers managed to put up a good show with almost negligible disturbance. It is safe to say that the first day culminated with satisfied faces of art and literature lovers from across the globe. The organisers had designed it skillfully to quench their thirst from politics to literature, from satire to feminism and from culture to creativity.

The sun was shining brightly and people were standing in queues outside the Marquee hall of Avari Hotel to attend the session. It was quite interesting to witness hundreds of people trying their luck on listening to the topic which still is considered a taboo in Pakistan. Feminism has been called a root cause of many evils and a country where it is a normal belief that majority of women will go to hell, it was unlikely to see hoards of people impatiently waiting for their turn to enter the premise.

The session started with European Union’s Ambassador to Pakistan Jean Francois Cautain and Salima Hashmi presenting Life Time Achievement Award to veteran artist Musarrat Misbah. Salima reminisced the times when she used to see Musarrat with a canvas in one hand and paint in the other. “It is for the LLF that we get to honour Musarrat, a true artist, a finest practitioner and devotee of Sufism from which she gets calm and true sense of commitment to her work,” said Salima. She continued as saying, “We owe it to LLF that they are unveiling the true talent of Pakistani women artists.”

Francois handed over the award to Musarrat and she responded with a humble thank you. Always a person of few words, you will have to see her painting to idea about her, commented Salima.

It is the first time for EU ambassador and his wife to attend the festival. He congratulated the organisers to arrange it under crucial circumstances. He highlighted about the debate on refugee crises and promised a change in Eurpean countries and whole world in handling such situations in future. “Global politics is in our DNA, however it is alarming that only 17% of the seats in our parliament are dedicated to women,” said Francois, adding, “the subject is very close to the heart of EU and it is my heartiest desire to see next EU secretary general should be a woman.” However, he left the podium with a question for the panelists, “Why the panel consists of women only? Don’t you think men should also participate in this discussion?”

Rachel Homes, a London based author, moderated the session. She introduced, “Feminism is the oldest democratic movement is the world. It has always been a global movement. It is also largely and surprisingly non-violent movement.”

The discussion started with Mona Eltahawy, an Eygptian-American journalist from US. She began her fierce comments with sharp criticism on patriarchy. In her opinion, state oppression leads to the birth of patriarchy and sexual abuse of women. She believed that everything is inter-linked and she accused that political revolutions failed because people do not throw away Mubaraks outside their bedrooms and societies in general.  “I am against Muslim politics, Muslim brotherhood, Christain brotherhood, Jew brotherhood and oppose any sort of religion’s involvement in politics.” She gave a clear message to sex offenders to stay out of a woman’s limits unless she permits.

Professor of Anthropology in the University of Michigan, Dina M. Siddqui focused on transnational feminism. She said, “Women are connected globally because the term feminism and its struggle have been hijacked many times by political systems.” She quoted UK Prime Minster David Cameron as saying, “Teach English to Muslim women in England to prevent militancy, by doing so, you will not only liberate women but also civilize Muslim men.”

Third panelist of the discussion was Anita Anand. She is a British radio and television presenter. Anita drew attention to the Victorian era sexual assaults on women. She highlighted that having a female head of state did not mean that you have empowered women. She said in Queen Victoria’s time, “The law was terrible. It dipped further for women that time. Women were not meant to ride bicycles.The police used sexual violence against women and it used to happen right under the famous Ben 10.Then she quoted a Hindu princess living in England, Safire Dilip Singh and her quest from a celebrated socialite to a transformed feminist after her visit to her ancestral places in Lahore and  her kingdom inherited by Raja Ranjit Singh. It was there when her life changed. She saw the same anger in their women. Women in Lahore and her ancestral places were also facing similar hindrances.”

She said, “Every man should call himself a feminist. It’s been long time that the men are fighting for women. Every man Jack of you and every man Jamshed of you should be a feminist”

Dina seconded, “Methods of creating discrimination among societies vary but all women are facing same kind of violence. However, access to the black woman’s body was essential to protect while women during patrician of India.” She concluded her remarks by saying, “To me change in social structure is essential for gender equality especially in the times of suffragette.”

Mona concluded, “I can’t afford to be patient to fight racist, homophobia, color, Islamophobes. You have to fight all kind of isms to empower women.”

In the end, Mona answered Francois question and said, “Men should not be on this panel because there are already men panels where men decide on women issues. For instance, Black Lives Matter campaign was started by three queer black women and they refused to add white people in their campaign because they have long been ignored to debate on this topic.”

The exertion for feminism cannot be fruitful unless every man callshimself a feminist.Though it’s been long time that the men are fighting for women but every man Jack of you and every man Jamshed of you should be a feminist it is only then gender equity can be achieved.