Women’s Studies Conferences

The decision to organise women studies Conferences stemmed from the belief that women in Pakistan have been contributing to and involved in Women’s Studies but most initiatives have been fragmented and restricted to the social sciences. ASR/IWSL has always considered Women’s Studies to multidisciplinary and a coming together of individual and collective expressions in relation to women, their relationship to development and their creativity.

The three Women’s Studies Conferences were held in 1994 and 1995. Over 200 women wrote papers for the three Conferences and over 1500 women (and some men) came together from across Pakistan. In addition, an estimated 15000 people were mobilised in these events as participants, organisers, volunteers/helpers, viewers, spectators and observers of the open day presentation; debates; discussions; multimedia art exhibition; theatre; continuous film and book festival; the Urdu poetry recitation; musical evenings; prose readings; dance performances; art slide show; the opening and closing ceremonies, and a candle-lit street demonstration against violence against women. As much of the news coverage suggests, these were considered pioneering, ambitious, exciting, inclusive, holistic events in Pakistan

In March 2001, ASR organized the second Transdisciplinary Women’s Studies Conference along the lines of the ASR Women’s Studies Conference held in 1994. The aim was to extend the definition of Women’s Studies by bringing together Pakistani and South Asian women’s opinions and ideas on national issues, policies, writings, fiction, activism, artistic and cultural expression. The IWSL brought together 160 Pakistani, South Asian, French, Afghan and US Based scholars in a Five- day conference in Lahore.

Other conferences organized by ASR and the IWSL include: A National/Regional Conference on Peace: “Together We Stand” in June 2002; A Two-day Conference on “Strength in Voices” from 22nd –23rd March 2005; and a National Conference on Women’s Studies in 2006; a Conference “Azadi Agar Chahtay Ho…. Mil Kar Chalo” in April 2007 and the multidimensional conference on the women’s movement ‘A Celebration of Women: In Struggle Together’ in 2013. The following details are of those specific to Women’s Studies:

Sr # Title Date Number of Participants
1. ‘A Celebration of Women’ Interdisciplinary Women Studies Conference. Themes of the Conference: Issues of Identity, Women and Literature, Women and Creativity, Women’s Movement, Women and Development, Art Exhibition, film festival, book festival, theatre festival, feminist Mushaira. 21 – 25 March, 1994 200 participants in Academic part   5 – 6 Resource person in each workshop.   Total Number of participants is 2000  
2. ‘In Struggle Together’ National Conference / Assembly of Development Activists. Themes of the Conference: The Political Economy of Pakistan – An Overview, Global Militarization, The New Economic Order, Rural Women and Agriculture, Environment and Migration, Human Rights – A Women’s Perspective, Militarization, Masculinity and Identity in Pakistan – Effects on Women, Defining, Understanding and Challenging Violence against Women, Women and Law, Women’s Creative Expressions – The Unfinished Agenda, The Women’s Movement in Pakistan, Art Exhibition, Film festival, Book festival, Theatre festival, Puppet Show, Musical Evening, Feminist Mushaira. 20 – 24 April 1995 Over 12000 people registered   600 registered participants attended the Conference.   Hundreds of non-registered people came to the open exhibition and cultural events.
3. “Rio to Beijing” ‘Take a Stand – Fight for your Rights’ 2nd National Conference / Assembly of Development Activists. The conference centered around two days of brief presentations and workshops to discuss and highlight the significance and implications of various UN and other international conferences held in Rio, Vienna, Cairo, Copenhagen, Marrakesh and Beijing. Thematic workshops where groups reflected and strategized on the relevant issues.   Multimedia Exhibition, Film festival, Books and Publications festival, Theatre and performing arts & other cultural events. 13 – 14 November 1995 Over 2000 activists participated  
4. ‘A Making of Meaning’ Second Transdisciplinary Women Studies Conference. Themes of the Conference: Women’s Studies: The personal is political, Women Constructed, Women Reconstructed, Crafty Women; women and Art, Rethinking the boundaries, A Voice of Her Own: Cultural Representation and Literature/ Poetry, Women and peace, Women and Conflict, Discussion on the relationship of Women’s Studies and Women’s Movement. 24 – 28 March, 2001 161 National and International participants from Pakistan and from South Asia, France and USA participated
5. Women’s Studies Conference Presentations: The State of the Discipline of Women’s Studies in Pakistan, Curriculum development issues in Gender Education, Research Methods in Pakistan: Sensitivity to Identity Issues, Learning Practices & social science, A Study on the Impact on Peasant Women of Transnational Corporations Hegemony on the Seed Market, India Shining – A Reading from Bollywood, Myths and realities women challenged to make a place in the society. 08 March, 2006 200 – 300
6. ‘A Celebration of Women: In Struggle Together’. Presentations: Affirmative Action and Representation, Towards a National Plan of Action on Women Peace and Security, The Women’s Movement: from the inside looking out, Creative/Cultural Articulations: Presentation/Panel discussion/Debate/Analysis:  Literature; Poetry; Translation; Publishing; Intensive Discussions on Resurgent Patriarchies. 10 – 12 February 2013 250 – 300