Women and Revolution: Global Expressions

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It recently piloted an algorithm built to recruit employees without bias. The formula picked more women. Bohnet says.

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Back in reality, we are at an event on artificial intelligence run by two male presenters. There are 12 men in the audience and four women. When they open up the session for questions, two women in the back row raise their hands first, followed by a man in the front row. A woman asks about the impact of artificial intelligence on education and children. The man asks about the impact of the technology on the bottom line of his business.

Bohnet says later. On our way out, we meet Sophia.

Global Expressions

She has beautiful soft features, clear skin, lightly made-up eyes and a winning smile. Sophia is an android, basically a hot female robot. Bohnet and I stop to take a closer look. Sophia nods and her smile deepens. She is pretty good at animating human expressions but is only beginning to learn about emotions, explains her maker, a lanky young man.

I ask Bob Goodson, the founder of Quid and an artificial intelligence specialist, whether he has ever come across any hot male androids made by women. What does it mean for the next technological revolution if most smart machines are made by men? Bias is a big theme today. At a session that Ms. Bohnet moderates on forecasting bias, two professors — one male, one female — present together.

When she speaks, he interrupts her six times — once, as he puts it, to clarify, before repeating what she said just 30 seconds earlier. At the cloakroom we are told that bags with shoes now cost 5 Swiss francs to check. Call it a tax on women.

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I stop at the bathroom to freshen up. The World Economic Forum actually has a female quota of sorts. The contemporary feminist movement, on the other hand, is demanding social, political and economic justice from the society, the state and the judiciary. This home grown feminism is no more for the rights of women alone. It also focuses on the right to self-determination of transgender and non-binary people. The contemporary feminist movement of Pakistan is very inclusive and speaks against both patriarchy and capitalism.

Most of the people are not ready to listen to a woman who speaks for equality so, usually, we have been labelled with derogatory names. But we know that ours is a resistance politics and it can never be easy. No matter what it costs, this resistance against patriarchy is a worthy cause. Obstacles cannot deter the true consciousness of women. Other than Aurat March, women from the legal fraternity, political parties, academia and media should work on politicising women folk across Pakistan through different channels. There is a dire need for an alternative discourse which supports laws and social and economic policies that are women-friendly.

This is not possible if women are not given positions where power resides; women, therefore, have to step outside domestic roles to attain their human rights.

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The present feminist movement in Pakistan is not ignoring other contradictions such as the class conflict, casteism, religious extremism and racial differences. A year-old based in Peshawar; co-founder of Daastan. I had just moved out of an all-girls school and shifted to an all-girls college which meant I had more freedom than before to go out, explore and learn about the world.

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It was during this time that I often saw catcalling, stalking and a lack of opportunities for girls. My rebellion against such behaviour started when I began writing small poems and stories about hypocrisy in our society. Later on, after I had more exposure towards social problems, I came to realise that these had been rooted in our history and I had to fight against them come what may. I believe social media has helped us come a long way.

We have started to speak about personal autonomy, class differences, a more transparent political presentation, equal wages and much more.

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We have more freedom of speech than the past and the moment is, slowly and gradually, becoming inclusive. It is addressing the rights of all genders. Life is difficult for feminists in our society. One of the major reasons for this is a lack of awareness in our society.

We do not see feminism as a movement that ensures equality but one that will provoke conflict among genders. At Daastan. We faced massive threats when we published an e-zine called Outcast. We had to seek legal support against those threats.

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At the Peshawar Book Club, we faced heated arguments for presenting a selection of books written by feminists. Those books were disliked. The society had a negative perception about them regardless of their brilliance.

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They called feminists as delusional for believing that women are oppressed. Aurat March is a brilliant initiative. It should be followed by monthly dialogues, workshops as well as political movements. We need more women in the legislature who are responsive to our demands for gender equality.

We need to rally support for all those women who came forward to raise their voices during the march so that they continue doing so all year around. This can help us in building a curriculum for consciousness raising and awareness on a deeply rooted misogyny and its implications. Pakistan has a pluralistic but a highly stratified society. The problems of every class, caste, ethnicity and gender vary and cannot be seen through a single lens.

A more diverse representation of women is needed in the feminist movement to have a better understanding of their problems. We cannot only be the voice of young upper middle class women. We need to expand our activism. Aurat March has improved on the previous edition of the march by integrating voices of women from all ethnicities, religions and classes but we still have a long way to go.

Such an integration can play an enormous role in the growth of the movement and eventually in its impact. Two years ago, I did not take much interest in feminist activism or feminism in general but, with time, I realised how I had been conditioned into thinking that it was okay for the society to work in a certain way. When I unlearned this and learnt about how a patriarchal system works, I could see how relevant activism was to my life.

I started analysing my life and noticed how a patriarchal system has normalised sexist behaviour in our daily lives. What I heard a lot was: tum baiti naheen ho, baita ho hamara you are not our daughter but our son. According to parents, this is a very progressive thing to say but it is not. It is not their fault though. They have been conditioned into thinking that way. The other reason why my interest increased in feminism is that I want to reclaim the freedom Baloch woman have enjoyed historically. There is this stereotypical perception that Baloch women are not independent and free but this is not true.

If we see historically, Baloch women have always been free women. We have become clearer about the problems we face in a typically patriarchal Pakistani society.

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Feminists under the Zia regime were fighting a battle against the man himself but the contemporary feminist movement is fighting against the mindset that he has left behind. This mindset is now more intense and extreme than what feminists faced then. The contemporary feminists have to fight online harassment as well along with harassment on the ground. We need to understand their mindset in order to change them. That in itself is a fight and a half, and requires a lot of emotional labour to fight. So, yes, there are some challenges but if we understand that people are conditioned to see feminists in a particular way and that we are here to change that mindset, that will make things a lot easier.

As a film student, I feel like films have a huge impact on the minds of their audiences. This will help film audiences change their perspectives on these issues.

Women and Revolution: Global Expressions Women and Revolution: Global Expressions
Women and Revolution: Global Expressions Women and Revolution: Global Expressions
Women and Revolution: Global Expressions Women and Revolution: Global Expressions
Women and Revolution: Global Expressions Women and Revolution: Global Expressions
Women and Revolution: Global Expressions Women and Revolution: Global Expressions
Women and Revolution: Global Expressions Women and Revolution: Global Expressions

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