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PeaceWomen of the Month

September 2018

For Sheema Kermani, dance is political. Besides theatre and music, dance is the main instrument Sheema Kermani uses for her activism. She is the founder of the organisation Teherik-e-Niswan and has been working for peace, justice and women's rights for decades. Sheema Kermani is one of the original 1000 PeaceWomen who were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. She is still a leading feminist voice in Pakistan today. 

Sheema Kermani, a professional dancer, founded Tehrik-e-Niswan in the late 1970s. Using artistic performance, Tehrik-e-Niswan addresses relevant socio-political issues to raise public awareness of injustice, discrimination and anti-women policies and laws. Kermani says of her activism: "I felt that I could not live in a society that is so oppressive without fighting against this oppression. Theatre and performance came as a tool to deal with these concerns and these issues.”

Tehrik-e-Niswan is one of PWAG’s partner organisations. Since 2015, they have organised an annual Women’s PeaceTable in Karachi on various pressing issues such as sexualised violence and harassment or the impact on women of religious fundamentalism and enforced disappearances. The next Women’s PeaceTable will take place this October. Tehrik-e-Niswan will also participate in the first regional Women’s PeaceTable in Nepal in November 2018.

Sheema Kermani is one of the initiators of the Aurat March, a women's march that took place in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore on International Women's Day on 8 March 2018 and mobilised a large number of participants. The 2017 Women’s PeaceTable  laid the foundation for the 2017Aurat March  by forging connections between activists. The Aurat March showed that the feminist movement in Pakistan is experiencing an upswing.

Sheema Kermani is also committed to reviving dancing in Pakistani society and making it accessible for women. There is an unbelievable pressure on women and female bodies, Kermani said. Dancing can be liberating and can contribute to claiming space and to enabling women to be proud of their bodies.

The activist and dancer is a central figure in the Pakistani feminist movement. PWAG is proud to work with a woman as dedicated as Sheema Kermani. 

(Photo: Credit cutacut.com Fawad Hasan)