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South Asia except Pakistan celebrates Women’s Day

South Asia except Pakistan celebrates Women’s Day

South Asia saw a mix of protest against gender discrimination and celebration of women power on Sunday on the occasion of the International Women’s Day.

Thousands marched across the streets of Pakistan in ‘Aurat march’ (women’s march) protesting against the violence and harassment they endure at the hands of men in the country. Many of them have been part of the annual march on March 8 before and have even received rape and death threats thereafter.

This year’s slogan “mera jism, meri marzi” (my body, my choice) further ignited a huge debate and controversy. It was considered obscene in a society where women are still struggling for equality.

However, Sunday saw a massive turnout in Karachi.

“Mera mazhab, meri marzi (my religion, my decision). Approximately 1,000 girls are forcibly converted every year in Pakistan, and married off to their kidnappers. Proud to have marched for them today,” tweeted journalist Alice-Peter Bhagtaney who held a poster on forced conversions during the march.

The country’s capital Islamabad though witnessed violence during a similar march and anti-riot police had to be summoned to ensure safety for women participants.

In India, the day was celebrated with Prime Minister Narendra Modi handing over his Twitter handle to seven women achievers which also included a bomb blast survivor.

“Greetings on International Women’s Day! We salute the spirit and accomplishments of our Nari Shakti. As I’d said a few days ago, I’m signing off. Through the day, seven women achievers will share their life journeys and perhaps interact with you through my social media accounts. India has outstanding women achievers in all parts of the nation. These women have done great work in a wide range of sectors. Their struggles and aspirations motivate millions. Let us keep celebrating the achievements of such women and learning from them. She Inspires Us,” tweeted the PM.

President Ram Nath Kovind also presented Nari Shakti Puraskar (Women Power Awards) in recognition of exceptional work for women empowerment.

In neighboring Nepal, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, the first woman to hold the office, wished for empowerment of women and gender equality.

“The government of Nepal is working actively to implement constitutional, legal provisions, policies and programmes, and the commitments made at the international level to achieve Sustainable Development Goals within 2030,” she said.

Sri Lanka celebrated International Women’s Day under the theme ‘woman’s courage, nation’s strength.’

“As a nation we salute our women. This is confirmed by social indicators such as literacy rate, social inclusion and life expectancy, where Sri Lankan women are on par with the developed countries. We will provide an environment where she will make her own decisions and be free to fulfil her aspirations. She will not be subject to any violence or discrimination,” said Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

In Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, women took out a candlelight vigil with the theme ‘Soman Bhabi, Soman Thaki, Soman Soman Samne Choli (Think equally, live equally, move forward equally).’

“We should all strive to work together for ensuring women empowerment, their equal rights and opportunity,” said Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Bhutan, which has barred entry of international travelers after an American tested positive for Coronavirus, had a quiet Sunday with streets in Thimpu wearing a deserted look..