Women's Empowerment and Leadership Development for Democratisation

Pakistan: The Purple Women Movement

Published Date: 
Monday, September 15, 2014
Source: 
Shirkat Gah

Peace activists from all across Pakistan came together to launch the Purple Women Movement from September 28-29 2013. The Purple Women Movement, a collective of women peace leaders and activists in various regions of Pakistan – under the banner of peace groups ‘Khwendo Tolana’ from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, ‘Sujhal Sawera’ from Punjab, ‘Navein Subha’ from Sindh and ‘Noki Subh’ from Balochistan – gathered in the Swat Valley of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to have a dialogue, and also to put forward their objective of promoting peace in the country. 

The women leaders discussed their culture, the social work that they are involved in, and the obstacles and oppression that they face. Possible solutions for attaining peace in the region were also discussed and a network was formed to raise issues collectively. The women painted peace messages on different colored sheets of cloth which signified the regions that they belonged to. They later sewed the sheets together as a symbolic gesture of harmony and solidarity among all four provinces of the formation of Purple Women’s Movement under one banner. The women took inspiration and hope from Humaira Bachal’s speech about her ongoing struggle for women’s education and commended the passing of the domestic violence bill. They vowed to work for the promotion of peace in their respective regions through support of the networks that they have formed. 

The Purple Women Movement’s Charter of Demands:

In the last decade, Pakistan has repeatedly faced natural as well as man-made disasters. Innumerable people have lost their homes. Moreover, too many people have passed away, and many have become disabled. State and private properties have been destroyed. These problems and devastations have impacted women more than anyone else, but their voices remain virtually unheard. Today, while wiping away their own tears, women have come together under the banner of ‘Purple Women’ to raise a collective voice that can be heard loud and clear.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s ‘Khwendo Tolana’, Punjab’s ‘Sujhal Sawera’, Sindh’s ‘Navein Subha’ and Balochistan's ‘Noki Subh’ have travelled from all parts of the country to Swat to launch the Purple Women Movement. First and foremost, Purple Women see peace as the crucial overriding issue: without peace, there can be no stability in daily life. We are committed to overcoming violence, hatred and revenge as our first priority. We need to establish peace at home to build peace in our society.

We condemn all forms of discrimination and culturally justified violence against women, be it swara or honor killing, the denial of political participation, or access to education. We demand that our government not only create robust legislation to protect women’s rights, but ensures their effective implementation through appropriate strategies and procedures.

Another critical issue which we want to raise and draw the attention of the government towards is the urgent need to reconstruct and bring prosperity to all communities devastated by natural and man-made disasters. This requires the reconstruction of infrastructure, the rehabilitation of people and the availability of equal opportunities for girls and boys. Both women and men should be provided for in terms of health, education and employment.

Finally, we would like to clarify that we represent a women’s movement – not an NGO. We are not funded by any national or international agency. However, Shirkat Gah, a 40-year-old women’s organization working for women empowerment and social justice, has provided us the opportunity to come together. Shirkat Gah has enhanced our knowledge about human rights as enshrined in our constitution, built our capacity around legal entitlements under the law and developed our skill to critically analyze our world. We are thankful to Shirkat Gah for teaching us new ways of thinking. Today, all women from Pakistan have gathered to think about our country and how to plan for a better future for the coming generations.

We demand that the government, policymakers and opinion setters act to ensure equal human rights and opportunities for all citizens irrespective of religion, gender or caste, and promote a society of peace, security and justice.

Issue: 
Peace and Security
Political and Public Participation