At Roshan, International Women’s Day was celebrated by shining light on female power, fierceness, and potential. The day was filled with excitement as we proceeded to a special women’s day lunch. Women from the engineering, HR, finance, graphic designing, and training departments at Roshan all gathered together to share their success stories and accomplishments over lunch and chai.

The conversation started off with us congratulating each other for our achievements thus far. One of them is the sheer number of women HR and Hiring Managers have worked together to recruit and retain at Roshan- at the Head Office and at the Plants. Roshan has taken an initiative to hire more women, in order to mitigate the male-to-female ratio and also get the female employees connected to each other via telecommunications and regular get-togethers. This formalized further as we inducted new members to our Women’s Committee and resolved to form a mentorship program for women. Our female senior leaders were kind enough to volunteer their time then and there in order to support the program. Moreover, we also resolved to hold a women’s trip and more women’s activities as a committee.

In a very safe environment, the conversation railed towards the darker side of being a working woman in Pakistan- the shackles of patriarchy, the glass ceiling, and stereotypes. But we rise, we rise TOGETHER against all the rocks they throw against us, and we find support and comfort from being around strong, independent women. A particular first-hand experience of catcalling, shared by an employee was really just a glimpse of the struggles women face. She narrated how she tased a group of hooligans who were harassing her on the streets on her way home. How empowering! Another really thought-provoking question arose: Why can’t women in Pakistan use scooties or bikes for transportation, just like they do in other neighboring countries?

Those who wanted to, took a half-day to attend Aurat March. We started by reusing leftover corrugated orders for designing Aurat March placards (being the eco-friendly company that we are) and then made our way to the March. However, I found the answer to our questions at lunch at the Aurat March- our peaceful plea for equality and freedom where we passed by counter-protestors. Imagine taking out time from your day to scream at young girls who are asking for nothing more than the right to not be murdered, the right to choose for ourselves what we want in our life, the right to work, the right to travel, and the right to safety. Facing these men, I wondered if the politics of fear, shame, and respectability will always be used to force us back into the walls of our houses.

Nevertheless, on a brighter note, the March itself was a beautiful blend of colors, music and dancing with feminists occupying the streets, radiating positivity on their faces and a spark in their eyes- an indicator of a future where we finally get AZAADI. At the end of the day, I am thankful to be starting my career at an organization that accepts differences, supports women and has given me the opportunity to join a community.

-Dania Hasan, Intern, RPL