When I first read that the South Asia forum in Madison, Wisconsin is organizing a conference on Transnational Feminism (thanks temporal) I was not sure what to make of it (and honestly it sounded like a phrase straight out of an Arundhati Roy polemic) – but I immediately knew that I wanted to attend because I have for long been an admirer of the work done by some of the participants.
Jean Feraca is of course the irrepressible host of a uniquely Madison program on Wisconsin Public Radio called Here On Earth and has introduced me to important players in a flat world rapidly unfolding in front of our very own eyes.
It is through her program that I was introduced to Amna Buttar – the person primarily responsible, along with Nicholas Kristoff for bringing Mukhtaran Mai to the US. Mukhtaran Mai was also interviewed live on Jean’s program along with Amna where Jean called Mukhtaran Mai, the Rosa Parks of Pakistan. I called in and asked Amna if she thought Mukhtaran would succeed in a deeply feudalistic and chauvinistic Pakistani (characteristics shared by North India in general) society. I pointed out that Rosa Parks would not have been successful without the support of a charismatic religious leader like Martin Luther King Jr. and that I do not see any such figure in Pakistan right now. She pointed out to me that Mukhtaran Mai has been getting some support amongst the religious classes but I was unconvinced.
That was then however and this is now. Helped by her courage and righteousness and some support by people like Amna Buttar and the relentless Nicholas Kristoff (hats off to him as well) – Mukhtaran Mai has made progress in awakening the soul of Pakistan and has also managed to put President Musharraf on the defensive.
I am not so familiar with the works of other speakers at the forum, but I am excited to hear them speak and learn more about them. I will post a report on the conference early next week.
The conference is on FRIDAY, APRIL 7 5:30pm and according to information on their website will be primarily about “BETWEEN “HERE” AND “THERE”: SPEAKING FOR WOMEN’S RIGHTS IN VARYING CULTURAL CONTEXTS.”