The News Lahore
Published Date: Oct 17, 2014
Call to empower women labourers in rural areas
AS the United Nations International Day for Rural Women was observed this week across the world and in Pakistan, women’s rights activists and female farmers in the country’s rural areas are calling for the federal and provincial governments to empower the agricultural women labourers to exercise their rights.
“Rural women are a key agents for achieving
the transformational, economic, environmental and social changes required for the sustainable development,” the United Nations declared this ahead of the International Day commemorated as an opportunity to promote their empowerment.
According to Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), less than three percent of Pakistani women in the rural areas own land despite forming an estimated
69 percent of the total agricultural workforce.
of Cholistan Development Council Razia Malik, talking to The News, said
the women, harvesting crops and feeding livestock in the rural areas, are not recognised as ‘farmers’ by their male counterparts and an alarming number of female farmers are ‘landless’. Malik said the women farmers toil in the fields night and day in addition to doing the household work, and yet no monetary value is attached to their work. The
women rights activist said their male relatives deny them of their rights to the land they till and as a result these female farmers have no share in the property. She noted that Sindh had allowed agricultural labourers to form the trade unions and said other provinces should follow suit.
“It is important that the Agriculture and Livestock Departments in the four provinces of Pakistan build a direct relationship with the female farmers and educate them on different farmer schemes available to them. Rural women constitute an estimate 70 percent of the country’s population and are a backbone of its agricultural economy; sadly they are underrepresented on all the farmer forums and deprived of their legal rights,” said Malik.
Director of Bedari, an NGO working for the rights of women and children, Arshad Mirza, told The News that State institutions, civil society , and local government bodies must intervene and give a due status to the rural women workers including those female home-based workers earning a meager income from hand-stitching footballs for Sialkot’s factories. Mirza said the government should provide skill development training and machinery to women workers to improve their productivity and incomes. He noted with the disappointment that all provincial governments lack a programme to empower the rural women and give them benefits given to male farmers.
Bushra Bibi, a female farmer in Okara district, talking to The News, said the women farmers in the area are economically insecure as they have no rights to the land and livestock which men single-handedly claim to own. The female farmer said families in her village do not register female babies
at the time of their birth and thus women lack all kinds of legal recognition needed to exercise their rights and participate in the government schemes.
Bushra Bibi told The News that despite her old age she has to walk two to three times everyday to get water for her family from a nearby spring and is discouraged by the men in her family from participating in the village council meetings.
farmer from Okara said there is no government hospital in her area and urged the government to build one hospital for women in each tehsil in addition to providing every female farmer one acre of land in recognition of their work.
Source : http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-5-278736-Call-to-empower-women-labourers-in-rural-areas