Mera jism, meri marzi.

These four words, the slogan of Aurat March for interaction women’s day 2020, have brought out the worst in some people, and most of us have had the misfortune of witnessing it (perils of the world wide web). I didn’t even think about the connotations that upset so many, until they were pointed out, in excruciating details. Later on, I saw a few slides doing round on Facebook, which were allegedly issued by a “religious” institution, justifying that rape and assaults were directly linked to a woman’s choice in clothing, her choice to have a career, her choice to have friends or venture out alone after sunset.

This was when I raised my hands and decided to give up. I thought, where do I even begin? What do I talk about first when nothing makes sense and there is an intellectual distance the size of Pacific ocean between the two parties? And how do I live with the fact that it was mostly women hurting other women? I just wanted to pack my bags and move to Mars, or Tristan da Cunha.

But I can’t (technical reasons). I have to talk, because it took me years to curate this platform and I should use it to say my bit. I have the magical power to articulate my thoughts. To help anyone and everyone who would care to listen that my body is indeed mine, and no other human being has any rights over it. I also want to further break down this slogan, in the simplest way possible, to list what it means and the rights it demands for women. The rights that most of us are aware of but may have forgotten.

This international women’s day, I just want WOMEN to ensure that they and others around them know that the have the following rights, that they get these rights, and when that’s not the case, to support and champion their sister when she decides to campaign for it.

My dear ladies, please know that:

  1. You have the right to education.
  2. You have the right to pursue a career and earn your own money.
  3. You have the right to choose when and who you marry.
  4. You have the right to decide if and when to have children.
  5. You have the right to decide what to wear, and that it has no implications on the respect you deserve.
  6. You have the right to have an opinion. You can think for yourself.
  7. You have the right to travel.
  8. You deserve respect, just like every human being does.
  9. You have the right to equal opportunities in all spheres, including professional.
  10. You have the right to demand equal pay.
  11. You have the right to demand that the state and its laws protect you.
  12. You have the right to manage your own money.
  13. You have the right to say no to anything that doesn’t feel right.
  14. You have the right to close the door to your bedroom.
  15. You have the right to learn life skills, such as driving and swimming.
  16. You have the right to love yourself unapologetically, regardless of your size, height, skin colour and languages that you speak.

Sometimes, with all the noise around us, we tend to forget to love and prioritise ourselves. We tend to shame instead of supporting a sister who has decided to pursue a different path. Don’t be so worried about her life after death; worry about your own, and how every time you tear down someone, slut shame and wish ill, think about how it reflects on your own existence.

This women’s day, I just want women to support other women. I have no demands from men or the society, but just my girls. Support other women please.

Here’s wishing a very happy international women’s day to all my gorgeous ladies!