Ms. Atiya Abbas's Profile

Atiya Abbas is a transnational feminist working with Girls at Dhabas, a collective that is working to define public space on their own whims and terms. Since her return from the University of Missouri- Columbia, she has been involved with this collective, arranging events across Karachi and Lahore, protesting harassment on the streets, and setting up small tea stalls to engage with the public. In 2016, Girls at Dhabas was featured on BBC World; went onto set up a Behenchara (female solidarity) Corner at the Women of the World Festival; organized a bike rally to protest street harassment; and conducted multiple workshops and presentations on gender and public space. She has spoken to teenaged girls and young women at Jinnah University and Dawood Public School under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of State and Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network. Keeping up a dialogue on gender, feminism and public space is of immense importance to her and she continues to encourage dialogue about these initiatives.


Girls at Dhabas

It is an interesting time to be a young woman. On the one hand, there is social media informing people about feminism and equality while on the other there are still differing opinions about gender norms in a society as dynamic and ever evolving as Pakistan’s. Through my work with Girls at Dhabas, we encourage discussion on gender and public space and ask people to consider this question: Why is it that women are under the ‘tyranny of purpose,’ while men can loiter, unfettered by social norms? Women must be seen at cafes and restaurants for their presence in public space to be acceptable. These nuances have opened the floor for dialogue across class, ethnic and gender lines and amongst pluralistic and liberal spaces, this dialogue continues to flow through art, performance and protest.

Ms. Atiya Abbas
Content writer
Synite Digital, Karachi

Fulbright Master’s
University of Missouri




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