Empowerment of women agri workers

By Our Correspondent
February 24, 2024

Islamabad:The formation of the platform of Provincial Stakeholders Alliance (PSA) was a momentous milestone for the rights and empowerment of Women Agricultural Workers.

In this picture taken on August 26, 2022, flood-affected women chop animal feed beside damaged rice crops after heavy monsoon rains in Jacobabad, Sindh province of Pakistan. — AFP

The event in this regard was held, which proved to be a significant step in addressing the issues raised in the research report titled 'The Hands that Feed Us: Struggles of Women Agricultural Workers in Pakistan' produced by Awaz Foundation Pakistan: Centre for Development Services, NARI Foundation and the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA).

The Provincial Stakeholders Alliance is a platform of representatives from various relevant stakeholders, including government agencies, non-governmental organisations, civil society organisations, bar council, and representatives from the media.

Rural women in Pakistan's agriculture sector, often overlooked, confront significant challenges such as lower wages, malnutrition, discrimination, and exploitation due to patriarchal norms. It was already highlighted by Awaz Foundation Pakistan's study that underscored issues like limited legal awareness and urged action from district departments and ministries.

The platform, aimed at fostering the empowerment of women agricultural workers, brought together various stakeholders committed to creating positive change. Notable individuals, whose insights shaped the discussions, provided their valuable views, and expressed their commitment to the cause.

In his welcoming address, Iqbal Ahmed Detho, the chairperson of the Sindh Human Rights Commission, said, "A key step in raising awareness of the rights of women agricultural workers is the formation of the Provincial Stakeholders Alliance. To guarantee their empowerment and well-being, we must all work together to put the appropriate measures into place."

Mr. Detho articulated, "This meeting aims to conduct a gap analysis, addressing the challenges hindering the implementation of the Sindh Women Agricultural Workers Act, 2019, and to provide actionable recommendations to governmental bodies and civil society. Integration among relevant departments such as Social Protection, Social Welfare, Labour, and Minority Affairs is imperative."

Zia ur Rehman, Chief Executive of AwazCDS-Pakistan, introduced the project and the purpose of the PSA, emphasising, "This platform aims to be a catalyst for positive change, ensuring the rights and empowerment of women agricultural workers are prioritised and protected by ensuring the passage of rules of business and implementation of The Sindh Women Agricultural Workers Act 2019."

Omar Dawoodjee, Director (Operations and Resource Mobilisation FORUM-ASIA) gave the concluding remarks for the meeting. He shared that with the help of their partners, they are working on capacity building of government officials, marginalised communities, and civil society.