On February, 12,1983, around 100 women marched on the Lahore High Court to protest against dictator General Ziaul Haq’s repressive and discriminatory Law of Evidence.
Pursuant to this legislation, a woman’s testimony was considered half as valuable as a man’s.
Anis Haroon, a Pakistani women’s rights activist and former caretaker Provincial Minister of Sindh who served in 2013 caretaker ministry stated that, “Asma Jahangir, Hina Jillani and Women Action Forum members took out a rally to present a petition to the high court on the laws leading to injustice against women.”
Police arrested up to 50 female protesters, using tear gas and batons. Defying laws against public assembly, the women’s protest marks an important event in Pakistan’s recent history.
Haroon look back to the time when she was the chairperson of SCSW, the prime minister then Yusuf Raza Gillani had suggested that if International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8th, then February 12 should also be commemorated as the National Women’s Day to honour the resilience of women in Pakistan.
Since gaining more recognition, Pakistani women have continued to demonstrate that women are agents for change. Women of the country have increased political presence, formed strong civil organisations and contributed to academic programs at universities.
Some of the discrimination against women in law has been repealed. However, there is still a long way to go. Among other issues, enrollment of girls in primary and secondary school is low and child marriages are an issue. There is still much to be done in Pakistan for gender equality.