Women 2020: How Pakistani feminisms unfolded between Twitter and the streets

Munira Cheema*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


For Pakistan, the year 2020 was unique in terms of events leading up to the protests on International Women's Day. On 3 March 2020, a current affairs-based talk show Aaj Ayesha Ehtesham Kay Sath (translated as Today with Ayesha Ehtesham) debated “Whether Pakistani Women should march on International Women's Day or Not?” After a heated exchange between the panellists on the issue, the debate continued on Twitter, and that also triggered several hashtags leading up to International Women's Day (8 March). Using CDA as its method, the paper evaluates how different publics engage with these hashtags that emerged around the events leading up to the Women's March 2020. The chapter mainly focuses on the gendered discourse built around two hashtags, #MeraJismMeriMerzi and #WhyICannotMarch. The findings show that responses can be divided into conservative and liberal publics. In a theoretical sense, both constitute what I call the pronounced publics of the gendered discourse where the hashtag/slogan (#MeraJismMeriMerzi) and the parent tweet by an activist (Marvi Sirmed) became the stimuli for them to participate/perform on Twitter. What one notices is a rare form of personal disclosures from Pakistani women on Twitter. I argue that these disclosures offer opportunities (though rare) to push the boundaries of the thus far immutable discourse on gender issues in Pakistan. Since the liberal public is in a minority, I see it as the counter public that is attempting to rearticulate the discourse on gender in a Pakistani context.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to Gender, Media and Violence
PublisherTaylor and Francis AS
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781000919349
ISBN (Print)9781032061368
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023

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