ISLAMABAD – The colorful Women festival is in full swing at Lok Virsa with all its festivities to be a major source of attraction for the residents of twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The three-day festival, which was inagurated by First lady of Pakistan Begum Nusrat Pervez Ashraf, was organized by Lok Virsa, Parliamentations Commission for Human Rights and Lok Parya NGO to mark International Women Day.A large number of people, particular women and children thronged the festival and expressed solidarity with rural women demonstrating their skills at the festival grounds. The festival features a number of women related activities such as artisans-at-work, poster competition “Peace through Women Empowerment”, speech competition “Role of Women in Strengthening the Democracy”, candlelight demonstration, stalls of organizations working for women empowerment, food courts, children play area, painting exhibition on “Voilence Against Women”, training workshop on “Gender and Development” with special focus on violence against women and harassment at workplace, students mushaira, musical performances, etc. The major attraction of the festival remained women artisans-at-work, which was being participated by over 50 craftswomen with their helpers. Female master artisans were seen busy in producing beautiful handicrafts which were catching the eyes of visitors.Prominent artisans were Fouzia Naheed in toy making, Ambreen Fatima in wall hanging, Mehvish in block printing, Tasneem Bibi in Hazara embroidery, Gulzar Shireen in gota kinari, Rehana Nigar in embroidery, Shabana Riaz in Rilli, Saadia Nasreen in metal & stone work, Rubina Yasmin in Multani embroidery, Hina Kaleem in mirror mosaic work, Khalil ur Rehman in truck art, Zia ul Haq in blue pottery and others. Talking to media, Lok Virsa’s Executive Director (ED) Khalid Javaid informed that the crafts represent a valuable material heritage, which forms a tangible part of our historical and contemporary culture. Unlike the west, most traditional crafts in Pakistan is neither a profession nor a hobby, but an essential component of the diverse cultural patterns a product of the ethnic and communal attitudes and practices. As such, crafts have meanings and definite social context in traditional society. However, the onslaught of the industrial age is erasing this craft heritage, even in rural areas. But there is a recent trend towards the use of crafts as art objects in urban homes. Historic forms and designs are being revived both by the increasing number of trained craftsmen and by designers for the tourist and export trade.ED Lok Virsa further highlighted that Pakistan is noted for some of the most varied and beautiful handicrafts of the world. Whether it is the elaborate dress of a bride or a simple household utensil, it is designed and created so artistically that it becomes an object of art. “The different regions, towns and cities specialize in their own particular handicrafts. This is why there is so much diversity and variety in the crafts of the country. The indigenous skills of Pakistan have evolved over centuries through communal practice and therefore constitute the most authentic representation of Pakistan’s traditional art”, he added.The festival will conclude with various other colorful activities on Sunday.