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October 17, 2019

Rural women demand inclusive policies to reduce inequality


October 17, 2019

Islamabad :Serious discussions around issues related to rural women as well as cultural performances and exhibition of products made by the rural women featured 12th Annual Rural Women Conference which gathered more than 2000 representatives of rural women from all districts of the country.

Organised by PODA at Lok Virsa, the three-day conference was inaugurated on October 15 on the occasion of International Rural Women Day. The theme of 2019 conference is "Synergizing Rural Women's Leadership for Rights-Based Development in Pakistan". To honor struggle of Kashmiri women, this platform has been dedicated to them.

On the second day, rural women demanded for inclusive policies to reduce inequality for setting a path for sustainable development and strong economy. Speaking on the occasion, President, PODA Sameena Nazir said that inclusive policies demand inclusive processes to engage women at all levels for sustainable development.

“We need to recognize the role and contributions made by Pakistan rural women. For this we need to recognize rural women’s status in the society though government policies by declaring them farmers so that they can benefit from the government’s schemes. A person who owns land is a farmer officially. That’s why demand the government to allocate one acre of government land to a woman farmer for agriculture to mainstream their work as a farmer,” she said.

PODA’s Jugni Theatre Group also revealed societal complexities through their theatrical performance in the open air theatre of Lok Virsa. They touched our social behaviors in a subtle manner and ended the performance to ensure human rights which are interconnected and for which we need to enhance access to education.

Educationist and member PODA-Board Khalida Ahmed, said “education is mother of all rights. It demands long term commitment from government, civil society, parents, teachers and students.” She was speaking at the policy dialogue session on Girls Right to Secondary Education in Rural Areas.

Speakers of the sessions stressed on inclusive education where persons with disability are integral part of the mainstream education system. Anis Haroon, Women Rights Activist, Former Member of National Commission on Human Rights, Sindh concluded the session saying that our governments need to invest more in sectors of education, health and justice. As, this leads towards overall sustainable development and progress of all, she added.

Other speakers were: Farah Naz, Country Director, CBM on Pathways to Inclusive Education for Girls with Disabilities; Zehra Arshad, National Coordinator, Pakistan Coalition for Education on Addressing gender-gap – Raising Enrolment of Rural Girls in Secondary level schools, Shamim Aftab, Member, Standing Committee for School Education on Situation of Girls quality education in Punjab, and Qaiser Rasheed, Additional Secretary on Budget and Planning, Punjab.

“ECP is committed to take all out measures to ensure inclusive participation of women at all levels,” said Babar Yaqub Fateh Muhammad, Secretary, Election Commission of Pakistan. He was speaking on the policy dialogue session on “Political Rights of Rural Women”. Panellists who spoke during this session were: Nazeeran Jamali, Naseerabad, Balochistan on challenges of women voters, Abia Akram, CEO, STEP on Inclusion of Persons with Disability in Local Government Elections, Nayyab Ali, Transgender Person on Inclusion of Transgender into Electoral Processes, Neelum Kumari, Umerkot, Sindhon inclusion of Religious Minorities, and Rafat Yasmin, Gender Officer, UNDP on Barriers to Women Voter Registration. The evening was ended on enthralling musical performances by various performers and artists.

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