E V E N T C O V E R A G E
Following International Women’s Day on 8 March, the International Women’s Day Committee, which comprises fifty local organisations, alliances, networks, and forums, has arranged for a march titled “Women’s March 2021 for Democracy” in Dhaka.
The event is scheduled to be held on Friday, 12 March 2021, beginning from Zero Point at 9:30 in the morning. The participants will then march to Suhrawardy Udyan, where a cultural programme will be arranged, with performances planned to include songs of resistance, dance, art, and story sharing. Those interested to participate are encouraged to join in at any point of the march, or even directly at the cultural event.
The IWD Committee has announced the theme of the march to be “Democracy”, which falls in line with the wider campaign theme of this year’s International Women’s Day — “Choose to Challenge”. Following is an excerpt detailing the purpose and demands of the march, as announced in the event’s press release:
“The constitution of our democracy guarantees the rights of the people — the right to question, the right to freedom of speech, the right to mobility, the right to organise, the right to self-determination, and above all the right to question those in power in our families, in our government, and in our society. These elements are at the core of the feminist fight. Without a democratic state and a democratic environment, it is impossible for women and gender diverse people to question power, push for accountability and pursue justice.
One of the most critical issues that we are protesting against is freedom of speech and the digital security act. Anti-democratic laws such as the DSA do not help create safety for women and gender diverse people as we saw in last year’s Noakhali case where men with political affiliations voluntarily spread a video of sexual assault to intimidate the survivor. The fact that the culture of impunity in our country right now allowed for these assaulters to be confident in sharing the video shows exactly why the DSA is not about creating a safe online environment for citizens, even women.
We know this repressive environment will lead to shrinking spaces where we can question the culture around us — a culture of gender-based violence that imposes rigid archaic gender norms, encourages misogynistic attitudes, imposes strict rules and restrictions on women’s mobility and their right to choice.
Our fight is the fight for freedom, for democracy. 50 years after our liberation, we urgently need to fight to bring back democracy — to hold onto the successes we have created for ourselves and to allow the space for us to continue this fight in the future.”
The march and subsequent programme are set to be one of, if not the most explicitly inclusive events in the nation’s history, with its organising committee members including organisations which specialise in feminism, indigenous rights, disability rights, labour rights, RMG workers’ rights, trans rights, Hijra rights, queer and gender diverse peoples’ rights, sex workers’ rights, environmentalism, and so on. The event, its theme, and the organisers’ demands come at a crucial time for Bangladesh, as a country struggling to find its lost footing in regards to democracy and human rights.
The details for the march are as follows:
Date and Time: 12 March, 2021, 9am to 12pm
Meeting Point: Shahid Nur Hossain Square (Zero point)
March route: Shahid Nur Hossain Square (Zero point), Abdul Gani Road, past Eidgah and High Court, enter Suhrawardy Udyan through gate adjacent to Engineer’s Institution
Cultural Programme location: Suhrawardy Udyan