Two members of the Lahore Arts Council (LAC) Board of Governors have expressed concern over a “gents only” event organized at the Alhamra Arts Council, describing it as establishing “bias” against the female population of the Punjab capital.
On Sunday, the Quran Academy organized an “international conference” on the teachings of theologian Israr Ahmad, the founder of the Tanzeem-e-Islami organizations that seeks the implementation of the Quran and Sunnah in social, cultural, legal, political, and economic spheres of life. The event was explicitly marked as “only for gents,” though a live feed was made available on YouTube for any interested viewers.
Taking notice of the event, former educator and painter Salima Hashmi and Lahore Literary Festival founder Razi Ahmed have written to Punjab caretaker Information Minister Aamir Mir, voicing concern over the discrimination shown against women in banning them from an event held in a public facility.
“By explicitly barring women from attending the said event, a bias was established against the female population of Lahore,” it said, stressing this was “particularly awkward” for a body like the LAC, whose founders included personalities such as Abdur Rahman Chughtai, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, M.D. Taseer, Patras Bokhari and Imtiaz Ali Taj, who had championed equality and inclusivity for all.
“With Pakistan having produced prominent women parliamentarians, leaders, sportswomen, activists , mountaineers and Nobel laureates,” it said, it was “highly regrettable” in the 21st century to deny women access to an event at the Alhamra. “Your late father Waris Mir is amongst those fondly recalled today for his role in standing up to the regime of Gen. Ziaul Haq decrying the dictator’s anti-women bills,” it continued.
“As citizens and members of the board of the Lahore Arts Council, we seek more diversity of views and inclusivity for all at all events at Alhamra,” it said, expressing the hope that under Mir’s patronage, Alhamra would “come closer to its founders’ ideals.”