‘An Engaging Inspiring Peaceful Calm and a High Caliber Event’ by Harinder Dhahan

End of the 3rd Sequence – Sunera Thobani, Surjeet Kalsey, Deanna Reder, Harsha Walia, Darshan Mann – with Hina Imam, Sameena Siddisui, Sana Janjua, Hafsah Durrani – photo by Sophia Eugeni

Celebration of Pakistani & Local Women Heroes

‘I along with my brother, sister, daughter and a niece were privileged to attend the Celebration of Pakistani & Local Women Heroes. It was an eyeopener to watch and realize how much adversity and hardship women go through to fight for their own and others’ rights. They take and are still taking daring steps to bring justice and equality. The women heroes advocated in diverse ways – through protests, dance/artistic performances, writing/publishing and providing safe spaces for women to express themselves.

‘The celebration was well organized with creativity, thoughtfulness, love and respect for all. The women who took the initiative to recognize, honour and celebrate the work being done by the women heroes are already walking in the footsteps of those great women fighters in order to continue their work. The presenters conducted this program in such a way by which they got the audience fully engaged. For example, when the presenters would light the candles, take off their flowers and attach them to the wreath after each segment, it gave the audience time to let the stories resonate and be an integral part of the whole program. All the participants/speakers were welcomed to the stage with genuine and sincere respect.

‘Just as the heroes’ work needs to continue, these events should continue to reach a wider audience in order to bring awareness about what’s happening in the women’s world and how women are trying to reach out by putting their own lives in danger.

‘All the organizers and helpers may have put in countless hours, effort and collective energy to produce such an engaging, inspirational, peaceful, calm and a high clibre event. I would like to commend the excellent work you have done. All the best in your future endeavors.’

View our objectives and goals.

Women Who Named the Unnamed is a project of
Surrey muse Arts Society (SMAS)

We gratefully acknowledge
that we are on the unceded Coast Salish territories of
the Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen,
Qayqayt, Tsawwassen, Musqueam,
Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

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Pakistan’s Women Heroes : Asma Jahangir

Women who Named the Unnamed
Tribute to the Brilliance

Asma Jahangir (1952-2018)
lawyer/human rights activist/author

By Sameena Siddiqui

Who they are, they are bizarre! But them you can’t extinguish,
They are whole, they are part, mingled so, you can’t distinguish,
Determined! They want the flame of hope to ignite,
Determined! They want life to illuminate like light,
Who they are, they are bizarre! Them you can’t extinguish,
They are whole, they are part, mingled so, you cant distinguish

yeh jo bhi hain ajeeb hain mitai mit na payenge,
yeh kul bhi hain, yeh juz bhi hain, tumhe nazar na ayenge,
yeah zid pe hain ke roshni ka har chirag jal uthe,
yeh zid pe hain ke zindagi mein roshni beekher de,
yeh jo bhi hain ajeeb hai mitai mit na payenge,
yeh kul bhi hain yeh juz bhi hain tumhe nazar na ayenge

(Gauhar Raza, Urdu. Translation, Author)

On 11th Feb 2018, Pakistan lost a willful feminist who insisted on getting her way, becoming audible and laying bare the societal violence directed towards the vulnerable and the marginalized. Asma Jilani Jahangir was the leading Pakistani Human Rights activist, lawyer, feminist and a fearless critic of the military interference in civil society and dictatorial role in politics. She always spoke truth to power and fought for women, minority, and bonded labourers’ rights against religious extremism and state authoritarian injustice in Pakistan. Asma gained international recognition for being the conscience of democratic and progressive Pakistan in the decades when secular voices and civil liberties were constantly under threat.

Asma’s tryst with the authoritarian state began in the year 1971 when she filed a case against the government of the Punjab for the release of her father, Malik Ghulam Jilani, then a Member of the National Assembly who had been incarcerated for protesting against Pakistan’s Army action in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. This was Asma’s first case, she won it, and it became a landmark that was followed by the interim Constitution of 1972 and by the permanent constitution of 1973. As well, Zulfikar Ali Bhtto, the President and Chief Martial law Administrator at the time, had no choice but to remove the Martial law because of the judicial pronouncements made in that case.

Then in 1983, military dictator General Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq enacted laws for the Islamization of Pakistan based on political motives. Haq’s desire to create an Islamic state where people of diverse ethnicity and pluralities live per Islamic principles was rooted in Pakistan’s genesis narratives. In 1979, he made several attempts to change the essential secular character of Pakistan’s legal system by implementing Islamic criminal law and established the Federal Shariat Court to monitor Pakistan’s adherence to it. Under such a system, women and minorities were subjected to violence, sexual abuse and blasphemy laws to control, punish and outcast those who defied the retrogressive norms and patriarchal oppression.

This was the decade when the Islamic revolution in Iran, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and emergence of Zia’s regime backed by US military forced a backward journey on women in the South Asian subcontinent. In that era of religious extremism, Asma Jahangir became the face of feminist protest against Zia-ul-Haq’s ordinances and fought on the streets against the weaponization of the seventh-century Islamic laws and tenets targeting women, queers and people belonging to minority groups. On the ground, despite several death threats and imprisonments, feminist poets, writers and lawyers joined hands to build a counter momentum to fight the tyranny, politicization of Islam, and institutional compliance with gendered discriminatory legislation.

Asma, her sister Hina Jilani, and other women leaders were determined to resist the moral regulation unleashed by the post-colonial state in the name of religion, and they came together with progressive men to form Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP, 1987)-an independent group, where they openly spoke about the failure of Pakistan’s state to protect women and minority rights as a systemic violation of international human rights. Women founded other organizations such as Women Action Forum (WAF), Punjab Women Lawyers Association (PWLA), AGHS Legal Aid Cell (ALAC). These organizations campaigned against the Hudood Ordinances (1979), provided free legal assistance to the lower caste/class women fleeing sexual violence, domestic abuse or custodial rights.

Interestingly, the regime that attempted to marginalize the women saw the genesis of the most vibrant women’ movement in Pakistan. Despite being seen as a threat to ‘national honour’, Asma Jahangir continued her lifelong work of fighting for legal rights for minorities and eradication of child labour. Later, she won several international awards and served as a United Nations rapporteur on Freedom of religion and was also a trustee at the International Crisis Group.

Today, Asma Jahangir left us with a feminist legacy that teaches us how to willfully refuse to be included in a system that is predicated on inequality and violence.


Sameena Siddiqui is a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory (AHVA) at UBC. In her doctoral thesis, she is looking at the politics of intertextuality between print, photography, and cinema in the early 20th century India. She did her M.Phil from School of Arts & Aesthetics, JNU, Delhi and has presented her work in several international conferences and residencies.

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Women Who Named the Unnamed
Pakistan’s & Local Women Heroes

Saturday, September 28, 2019
6 – 9 PM
Centre Stage
Surrey City Hall
13450 – 104 Avenue
Surrey, BC, Canada V3T 1V8
Phone: 604-591-4011

Buy your ticket online at this link:
tickets.surrey.ca
Tickets $25
Box Office : 604-501-5566

More information
Women-who-named-the-unnamed
In-gratitude-we-celebrate-our-women-heroes
View our objectives and goals.

We gratefully acknowledge
that we are on the unceded Coast Salish territories of
the Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen,
Qayqayt, Tsawwassen, Musqueam,
Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

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Meet the Women hosting Women Heroes on September 28-2019

Meet this group of bright and talented women who have come together to bring us the stage show ‘Women Who named the Unnamed: Pakistan’s & Local Women Heroes’: Sana Janjua, Hafsah Umar Durrani, Sameena Siddiqui, Hina Imam and Mariam Zohra D. View the Program here.

Sana is a poet, playwright and performer who works as a psych nurse and pursues her higher education goals, Hafsah is a homemaker, a Scouts Leader who is interested in performance and martial arts. Sameena is a Muslim from India pursuing her PhD in India’s art history, and she’s a compulsive reader, researcher and writer. Hina is a journalist born in Pakistan, raised in Saudi Arabia and living and studying in Canada as a student of journalism at UBC. Mariam is a vocalist and a multi-disciplinary artist combining music, video, drama, painting and poetry. View more about our amazing hosts: creative-content/hosts

Women Who Named the Unnamed
Pakistan’s & Local Women Heroes

Saturday, September 28, 2019
6 – 9 PM
Centre Stage
Surrey City Hall
13450 – 104 Avenue
Surrey, BC, Canada V3T 1V8
Phone: 604-591-4011

Buy your ticket online at this link:
tickets.surrey.ca
Tickets $25
Box Office : 604-501-5566

More information
Women-who-named-the-unnamed
In-gratitude-we-celebrate-our-women-heroes
View our objectives and goals.

We gratefully acknowledge
that we are on the unceded Coast Salish territories of
the Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen,
Qayqayt, Tsawwassen, Musqueam,
Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

..