WSF Karachi – events on March 25, 2006

HEAVEN IS NOT POSSIBLE, but … ‘, by Stanislaus Jude Chan and Frances Suselo – When one speaker at the WSF opening ceremony called out “remove violations against women”, Aziza Siddiqui sat up straight in her chair, and cheered.

Aziza is from Afghanistan, and she was “very excited” to hear her own sentiments spoken out loud by someone else. “We need to fight violations against women,” she says. The women’s rights coordinator for Action Aid Afghanistan is looking forward to engaging with, learning from, and sharing her experiences as a woman from Afghanistan with people from other countries at the WSF.

“It is hard work, but we must fight for gender balance. In politics, there is only one female minister in my country. We must change this so women can have a chance at an equal voice.”

At the same time, Roshan Sirran, executive director of Training Human Rights Association (THRA), an Afghan women’s rights group, said that even though her country is still in its post-conflict period, the fact that the there are now 28 women in its parliament paints a hopeful picture for the rest of its women to have a bigger role not only in politics but also in all aspects of Afghan life. It’s the second time Afghanistan has attended the WSF, she added.

Aziza and Rosha’s voices are not the only ones in the carnival of ideas and debates at the WSF.

Australian women also “still have a long way to go”, said Australian participant Phinman from Green Left Weekly, an independent national newspaper from the Down Under. “Even though Australia is a comparatively rich country, Australian women still have fewer job prospects and still lower pay rates than men,” she said. “What’s more, child care in Australia is very expensive, so you see many instances where both parents in a family work. But unfortunately, women are still expected to do the household chores, even though they are already working outside the home.”

Muhammad Suhaib, a Pakistani student volunteer helping with the painting of a signboard calling for suggestions to improve the world, says there are many issues he thinks the WSF should discuss. “There are many issues we need to improve on. Stop violence, avoid war and destruction, return equal rights to women… Every human being should be free from suffering and have the right to basic needs.”

Said Suhaib: “Heaven is not possible, but with more events like the WSF, we can help change mindsets, the way people think, and make this world a better one.” (END/TV/SJC- FS/JS/06).

more articles about the WSF:

Nepal’s activists find allies;

NGOs have taken people away from politics;

Fanfare, predictable speeches open WSF.

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