This Friday, on March 8, as the world will celebrate Women’s Day, Aurat March will take to the streets in Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad and Multan.

The Current attended this year’s Aurat March press conference and got details about how this year is different from the ones before.

Every year, the press conference is dominated by men from media platforms, leaving little or no room for women and transgender journalists to interact with Aurat March members.

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Moreover, coming with preconceived notions and biases, male journalists reportedly have been condescending and aggressive towards Aurat March members who conduct the conference with the aim to explain their manifesto and charter of demands prior to the big day.

To counter this issue, this year Aurat March decided to hold a Feminist Press Conference.

The purpose of a Feminist Press Conference was to provide a space to women, transgender, and minorities where they can get a fair chance to not just raise questions in respect to the March, but meaningfully engage with members.

“This year’s press conference, in comparison to previous ones, was definitely much better,” said one of the representatives (who requested to remain anonymous).

“Today, we were able to talk about our manifesto, we took questions from the reporters, and the interaction was respectful.”

The member further denoted that this has never happened before. She explained that in the past, no reporter would come having read Aurat March’s charter of demands and the manifesto and instead, would resort to stereotypical questions.

“When we would try to counter their queries, they wouldn’t listen to us because they wanted to hear the preconceptions they came with.

“In fact, we are happy that this year, because the conference was conducted peacefully, we even got suggestions from journalists – which will, of course, help us as well”, she added.

On Youtubers

Last year, Youtubers disrupted the press conference, and media journalists stated that they do not consider YouTubers as journalists. “I am glad this year, we talked about [YouTuber disruption] as well”, the members highlighted.

“The journalist community should think through ways to distance themselves from or critique YouTubers who are badmouthing their profession.”

Some YouTubers, who attend the March as independent journalists, are known for their alleged misconduct at Aurat March. They have also been called out for spreading disinformation about performances and placards at the marches, and also harassing marchers with irrelevant and demeaning questions.

This poses a threat to Aurat March members as well as attendees, and above all, the propaganda hinders socio-political awareness that the March intends to raise.

The irony of today’s feminist press conference was when a YouTuber reached out to Aurat March members, upset for not getting a chance to ask his questions during the session. Well, I hope he realized how women feel when men take up their rightful space.