International Working Women’s day was celebrated in Lahore. It was organized by the Pakistan Trade Union Defense Campaign (PTUDC), Youth For International Socialism (YFIS) and the People’s Youth Organization (PYO). The seminar was on International Working Women’s Day and the inauguration of the book specially published for this occasion ‘Natasha—A Bolshevik Woman Organizer”. The venue of the public meeting was the Lahore Press Club. It was started at 2.00pm and ended at 4.00pm. Women started coming at 1.00pm. More than 200 workingwomen participated in this seminar under the chairmanship of Comrade Shahida Jabeen. Comrade Sadaf Zahra (President of the People’s Youth Organization Lahore) was stage secretary and the chief guest was comrade Marie Frederiksen from Denmark.
Among the guests were Shamim Niazi General Secretary Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Lahore (Women’s Wing), Bushra Malik (PPP), Saeeda Yaqoob (Organizer PTUDC Lahore), Hina Zain (National organizer YFIS), Humaira Hashmi (PYO).
Comrade Sadaf Zahra welcomed the participants and introduced the guests. The first speaker was Hina Zain who introduced the book and explained the significance of March 8. She said that struggle of women workers is as important as male workers for the transformation of society and building the socialist revolution.
Comrade Yasir Irshad (YFIS) congratulated women workers and said in his speech that this was the day to show solidarity with the women workers against their exploitation and their struggle for a better life. He said also that YFIS is working shoulder to shoulder with the working class in their struggle and that the youth of Pakistan is with the workers in their struggle against capitalism.
Another speaker was Mian Mohammed Ayub, President PYO, Punjab. He congratulated women workers on their international day and assured his solidarity with them.
Rabia Bajwa Adocate, highlighted the criminal law against women, i.e. the Hadood ordinance. She also said that the Mullah is the first and keen enemy of women and we should fight against them.
Bushra Malik and Shamim Niazi also congratulated the workingwomen and the organizer for the wonderful programme on this day.
Comrade Marie explained how oppression of women is a global phenomenon, that the oppression of women started with the beginning of class society, and how the capitalist’s profit from the oppression of women. She highlighted that the struggle for workingwomen’s emancipation can only succeed if all workers, men and women, fight together. The fight for the emancipation of women cannot be separated from the workers struggle for a socialist world.
Comrade Shahida Jabeen gave an enthusiastic speech. She spoke against capitalist exploitation and against imperialism. She explained the origins of the oppression of women in very simple words and the women were excited and enthusiastic during her speech. She also explained the path to fight against the system, oppression and exploitation of women and the working class as whole. She said that we should be united and should struggle for a better life and future along with the male workers because we all are part of one class, the working class. Because our sufferings are the same our struggle should be united. She also explained the need for internationalism.
After the closing remarks by Sadaf Zahra all women joined her in the song “The Internationale”.
In between the speeches some comrades sang women workers’ songs.
All women were very glad and a lot of women asked us to come on a regular basis to their factories, homes and colonies to educate them about socialism - “we will support you in your struggle” they said.
After the seminar we organized a demonstration against the criminal laws against women and a rally against IRO 2002 (Industrial Relations Ordinance, in which workers rights have been severely damaged, see more: www.ptudc.org). All of the women joined the rally. They were chanting slogans such as “Repeal all draconian laws against women”, “End repressive laws against workers”, “Long Live Revolution - Down with imperialism”, “End the dictatorship, reforms or revolution, revolution, revolution, socialist revolution,”
“End the price hike”, “Long live working women, long live their struggle’.
The rally started at the Press club and ended on Egerton Road. Police stopped us but the enthusiasm broke through the police cordon again and again.
During the rally the women were aggressive and so excited that after the rally ended they were not ready to go back to their homes. The women were spell bound in the meeting and wanted to further prolong the rally. We assured them that we will come to their places and will have further discussions and they should go back to their homes.
After the meeting Marie said that it was amazing to experience a meeting with so many working class women. Knowing that Pakistani women are some of the most oppressed women in the world highlights the plight of women all over the world, and highlights the need to unite in the struggle for the emancipation of women. Even though women have better conditions in the West than women in the so-called Third World, it is the same struggle. The same laws that oppress the female workers in the West, for example lower wages and worse working conditions, are the same laws that uphold the reactionary Islamic laws in Pakistan that incorporate the entire working family – the laws of capitalism. Therefore we cannot accept a struggle that is separated, which keep women thinking that the conditions for women in Denmark are separated from the conditions for women in for example Pakistan – the struggle can only be won by unification.
See images of the Women's Day demonstration
See images from the press on the Women's Day events