The Aurat March Lahore organisers have released the poster for this year’s march and the theme is ‘Women’s Health Crisis’.
The poster was shared on the official Instagram of Aurat March Lahore, and it is designed by Shehzil Malik.
Speaking exclusively to The Current, Shehzil Malik talked about the thought process behind designing the poster. “To know more about women’s health crisis, I reached out to a friend who works in Public Health,” she explained, “and it helped me in the research.”
“I like to research before I draw something, especially if it is for Aurat March or if it has something to do with Pakistani women in general,” she added.
Talking about her artwork Shehzil said, “I didn’t want to depict women suffering, but rather envision a new reality where their health and well-being is a priority.”
She went on to add that the initial sketches were all about the things happening inside women’s bodies, but those sketches gave an impression that there is something wrong with women’s bodies. She wanted to show that there is nothing wrong with the female body but that it is an unhealthy environment, which doesn’t support or prioritise women’s health.
Answering a question about why the posters in Aurat March gains attention, she said, “If people are getting pissed off at posters, it is okay because it helps start a conversation around patriarchal toxic norms.”
An official statement about the theme, ‘Women’s Health Crisis’ by Aurat March Lahore read, “The past year was a difficult one for all of us, but collectively the Covid-19 pandemic laid bare the stark inequalities in our society and amplified the oppression therein.”
“We saw that those already disadvantaged, working and lower-middle-class, women and gender minority groups were particularly hit by the medical, social and financial fallout of the pandemic,” the statement said.
“As conversations around public health took centre stage, we saw that the impact of the pandemic on women’s health and well-being was not part of these discussions. This is why we decided to highlight the issue of women’s health, an often neglected subject, this year.”
“Most women in Pakistan suffer from lack of nutrition due to the lack of priority given to women’s health and safety. 52% of women of reproductive age in Pakistan are anemic. Pakistan has the highest incident rate of breast cancer in Asia, One in ten Pakistani women are likely to develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Women are criminally underrepresented in clinical trials and research, leading to a neglect of their particular needs.”
The statement further said, “At a larger level, we decided to talk about the pandemic of patriarchy, much like the Covid-19 virus, patriarchy is a virus that has infected us all. During the pandemic, domestic violence numbers surged while at the same time women’s unpaid and care labour doubled as lockdowns and school closures took place. We wanted to use the metaphor of health to highlight the sickness of structural sexism and exploitation in our society—our collective societal body is in pain, our movement seeks to highlight this anguish.”
“We also saw how all of this is deeply tied to capitalism and its vision of profit over care. The reality of the world in COVID-19 puts front and centre our need to also divest from ways of being and operating that are driven by structures that put profit over care. We need to divest from these ways in our individual and collective lives, at the level of our home as well as the state to truly live in a world where human life and well-being is above all else.”
Aurat March is scheduled to take place on 8th of March, on International Women’s Day.