A large number of fisherwomen and peasant women, wearing traditional dresses and carrying rose petals in larger groups in different areas, thronged lakes and river streams, their sources of livelihoods and paid tribute to the water bodies to express the solidarity with world women on International Women’s Day.
The women groups and young girl performed cultural songs and dance on the themes of women day, linking it with the 14-day activities, designed by Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) to celebrate the International Day of Action for Rivers. The women showered rose petals and poured water jars to the streams and prayed for its rehabilitation and saving their traditional sources of income, as the waters are under threats of degradation and receiving pollution.
The main event was held at the bank of Narreri Lake, which attracted government officials, and community people to celebrate the International Women Day under the theme “Women and Water”. Narreri Lake in the area is not receiving fresh water and the fishermen families are facing acute shortage of fresh water.
Makal Shah, associated with PFF at Badin, said, “Theme they depicted specifically was women of water while celebrating the International women day. We have also paid tribute of the daring fisherwomen Mai Hajoo, Hawal Momin and others, who had long associated in the struggle of Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum but today they were not with us.”
“We cannot our colleagues, who played leading role long ago. We will remember them whenever we celebrate the days,” she said.
Makal Shah said it is not only fishermen, livestock holders and farmers, maintaining ecology itself needs fresh water to stream to the delta and lakes. “Habitats of wildlife species have been threatened due to degradation of fresh water lakes and deltaic region.”
Similar events were organised by PFF activists in Badin, Thatta and Sanghar, where young girls performed songs and tableau with the themes of women day. They also depicted the idea of destruction of Indus Delta, ocean grabbing, water shortage, mass migration from their ancestral abodes to safer places to show the world how the people at marine and inland waters are experiencing worst kind of situation and their future generation may continue this in case the state failed to pay heed towards their plights.
They were chanting slogans to save people, culture, environment and land as livelihood resources of indigenous communities from Delta and wetlands are under threats. The activist women belonging to Fisherfolk Forum said, “It is possible through the smooth flow of river to end in to the Indus constantly.”
Badin and Sanghar districts are home to major freshwater lakes, which provide source of living to the communities but for the two decades these waters are losing attraction for the fishermen.
There are lakes in the areas, which had the availability of freshwater, once a reality and now a dream for the native communities. Culture has emerged from the indigenous prosperity and the difficulties are forcing the people to migrate for better living and survival of their coming generations. They believe that the indigenous prosperity relates to the restoration of natural water bodies through the free flow of Rivers Indus, which is unable to end with natural discharge which the sea needs.
Women of fishers, farmers, riverine and forest communities organized colourful events, pressing demands to protect their waters on which they depend for livelihoods. Several water bodies, lakes and ponds have been facing degradation and the communities have lost their source of living.