Global Womens Rights

All-Male Feminism Panel in Pakistan Receives Backlash

The Arts Council of Pakistan received backlash for its discussion titled “Feminism; The Other Perspective,” which featured an all-male panel.

After receiving criticism on social media, the Arts Council of Pakistan changed the name of the discussion, the makeup of the panel, and the graphics promoting the discussion. Originally, “Feminism; The Other Perspective” featured all-male decision-makers from major media houses and major followings. The discussion featured one woman as a moderator, yet in graphics advertising the event, her name was included after all of the men’s names.

The Arts Council of Pakistan, after receiving harsh criticism on social media, has since renamed the discussion “Understanding Feminism,” added two women to the panel, and changed the graphic so that the moderator’s name, Uzma Al-Karim, is more noticeable. The two women now included in the panel are feminist Mehtab Akbar Rashdi and journalist Quatrina Hosain.

Uzma Al-Karim reported, “Our purpose was to get men having decision-making powers in major media houses and those with a following to talk about their understanding of feminism. We wanted to register their perception because they were in a position to influence public opinion. And that’s why we called it ‘The Other Perspective.’” Organizers originally claimed participants “will see some very notable people of our country shedding light on the topic from their point of view.”

Jibran Nasir, a male human rights activist scheduled to be on the panel, tweeted in wake of the social media criticism, “I was informed the panel is about men talking to other men about rethinking masculinity and why as men we need feminism. It wasn’t to explain feminism or talk about women issues as men.” Nasir failed to comment on whether he was informed the panel was all-male.

Nida Kirmani, a professor at Lahore University of Management Sciences, said she thought that while men debating feminism is justified, there was a miscommunication on the concept of the panel. She said, “I think this reaction was also caused by the fact that we are getting sick of seeing male panelists endlessly debating frivolous issues on electronic media.”

Pakistan is ranked as the sixth most dangerous country for women. The World Bank estimated that around one in three Pakistani women will be victim to physical violence. Such violence includes kidnappings, sexual harassment, acid attacks, rape, and honor killings. With more than 51,241 cases of violence being reported between January 2011 and January 2017, conviction rates remain low at around 2.5% of all cases ending up being convicted.

Sources: BBC 11/22/19, Independent 11/23/19, DW 9/23/19

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