Aurat March has selected it’s theme for this year: Feminism in the Times of Crisis, and the social movement has released a statement on their Instagram page detailing their demands from the government to improve the economic conditions of the country.
“The economic crisis in Pakistan is not just a financial problem, it is a humanitarian crisis that affects the most vulnerable people in our society. The government’s reliance on Western lenders is a short-term solution that will have long-term consequences for the poor and marginalized. The current economic policies of the government are exacerbating inequality and perpetuating the cycle of poverty. We must prioritize pro-poor growth and invest in the well-being of its most marginalized citizens,” the statement reads.

The manifesto went on to address current talks between the Pakistani government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), stating how the measures implemented due to these loans will impact women, working class and the rural poor directly:
“The government is relying on bailout loans from Western lenders like IMF to starve off an impending economic collapse. These loans come with conditions like privaitization of public institutions and services, removal of electricity and fuel subsidies, increase in indirect taxes, and cuts in social expenditures. These measures will impact those who are already marginalized. Women, working-class people, and rural poor are already caught up in the crushing cycles of poverty, struggling to survive amidst structural issues like mounting debt, and situational economic blows like COVID-19, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and unprecedented destruction in the wake of the 2022 floods.”
The movement went on to reveal that global rankings show Pakistan ranks the lowest regarding per capita income, health, and education in South Asia, and needs to introduce economic policies that prioritize the poor and marginalized of the country:
“Global rankings increasingly evidence the need for Pakistan to prioritize pro-poor growth that ensures the wellbring of its most marginalized. The country has the lowest HDI rankings for per capita income, health, and education in South Asia. Even Bangladesh and Nepal, two of the least developed countries in the region, have better rankings. Pakistan’s expenditure on defense is higher than the combined expenditure on health and education.”
The note ended with the movement demanding that the government introduce economic policies that prioritized the well being of the working class and poor of Pakistan:
“We demand decent work and living wages for all residents, including regularization of temporary work and the expansion of social protection coverage. Secondly, IMF-driven policies that benefit polices that benefit global capitalism at the expense of all the poor and marginalized should be stopped. Finally, we demand rollback of budget cuts in public institutions, the reinstallment of HEC scholarships, and the implementation of survivor-centric welfare systemsn as well as quality education and healthcare for all.”

Read their complete statement here: