KARACHI: WOW Virtual Pakistan 2021 kicked off with keynote speeches by Senator Sherry Rehman, Dana MacLeod, Director South Asia British Council and Jude Kelly, Founder and Director of The WOW Foundation.
In her Keynote address during the WOW Virtual Pakistan, Senator Sherry Rehman said: On this International Women’s Day, we must talk about how women are at the core of the huge care and response efforts that are currently underway to combat the pandemic, and yet have emerged as the hidden statistic of shame. Patriarchy in its neo-liberal and traditional structural avatar has interlocked in dangerous ways with the pandemic to strip women of rights and incomes, to burden them with care, and to hide the scars of violence and abuse they face at home, especially in pandemic isolation. Patriarchy is as bad or worse than any tyranny, colony or oppressor. It is a system of social organization that enforces violent exclusions and mortalities, deaths in many cases. Acid crimes, rapes, honour killings make it to the headlines. But the pandemic has silently colluded with patriarchy to bring back, reinforce and amplify a de-humanising era of overt and covert discriminations.
WOW Virtual Pakistan 2021 has been organised by British Council in partnership with The WOW Foundation, and curating partners Entrepreneurship and Community Development Institute (ECDI) and Olomopolo Media. It is the fourth WOW – Women of the World Festival in Pakistan but the first to be held digitally. The festival will run till 8th March.
Over the course of four days, WOW Virtual Pakistan will hosts session like a talk on girls education by Malala Yousufzai, Dr Mailha Khan from the Malala fund, and Kate Ewar-Bigg, Interim CEO British Council, and panels like Mehengai, Covid, aur Mai explores economic stresses, during the COVID pandemic, and performances by Meesha Shafi, Wajiha Naqvi, Muneera Batool and regional musical ensemble by The Sketches, Harsakhiyan, Shmol and Lala Ahsan and more. It also includes film screenings like Culture of Kalaash’ by Award winning Director Sabiha Sumar, Khel Khel Mein’, a documentary about how women are challenging gender norms by Nida Kirmani & Dostain Baloch and many more. All sessions our interpreted in Pakistan Sign Language (PSL) and captioned.