"Feminism" and "feminist activists" are some of the most controversial terms in in Pakistan.
Feminism is the belief in full social, economic, and political equality for women, while feminist activism refers to movements which aim to define, establish and defend the rights of women. This involves the pursuit of equal political, economic, and social rights, alongside equal opportunity.
The latest wave of feminists in Pakistan comes from all walks of life. It is different from previous waves of feminism as the new activists are trying not just to demand equal rights, but also to challenge the private spheres of lives where patriarchy prevails. Due to the use of social media platforms, these feminists are quick in spreading their messages, but they still need to engage with the mainstream media effectively. Also, they need to understand the importance of engaging with the state as that is where political power resides.
Women rights are human rights. If we want to have a country with democratic values, then women need to be engaged at all levels of decision-making positions. They need to be given equal opportunities to practice their best potential of making a difference in the society. For this, patriarchy must be dismantled to achieve freedom from oppression in a true sense. The current, fourth wave of Pakistani feminism is a quite new phenomenon, and is not just attacked from conservative circles but also criticised by many traditional feminists. However, it deserves serious analysis and public discussion.
FES hopes that this paper will provide a first step in this direction, and food for thought. We wish that it might contribute to a further development and strengthening of the feminist discourse in Pakistan.