Empowerment: Rural women backbone of agriculture

ISLAMABAD: Rural women are the backbone of agriculture and economy, so the government must include clear and strong mentioning women in new laws regarding farming. The status of rural women working in agriculture as farmers must be acknowledged and for rural women empowerment the government should allocate its free land to landless women farmers so that they can be economically strong and stable.

Women farmers should also be trained by pesticides companies to ensure their safety and be provided seeds and fertilizers at low rates and informed about safety measures. This was said by Potohar Organisation for Development Advocacy (PODA) Chairperson Dr Zarina Salamat.

She expressed these views during the 11th annual conference on “International Day of Rural Women” organised by PODA at Lok Virsa on Monday. The conference is linked with the global vision for improving lives of rural women around the globe as October 15 has been declared by the United Nations as the “International Day of Rural Women.” PODA has been organising this annual conference regularly since 2008.

In the inaugural session Dr Salamat thoroughly talked about violence against women in rural communities adding that there is a need for legislative and procedural reforms to strengthen access to justice. She urged the government, parliamentarians and all agencies concerned to listen to the voices of Pakistani women for peace and democracy. She said that government must ensure implementation of pro-women laws for rural women.

Furthermore she stressed that political parties should ensure more representation of women in their parties and more development funds should be allocated for women. She said, “We welcome the laws adopted against early marriages to stop child marriages and demanded that the government set up mechanisms to monitor and ensure implementation of child marriages and also demanded legislation against forced marriages as well.”

One of the most significant aims of this event is to assist and encourage the rural women of Pakistan interact with other women from different provinces and regions in order to share their experiences, reflect on lessons learned and strategise collectively for local action in their respective areas.

The purpose of the two-day conference is to highlight the key challenges facing rural women and share their suggestions for improvements in the areas of democracy and peace.

The conference is being attended by around 2,000 rural women representing all regions and cultures of Pakistan, officials of the Government of Pakistan and members of diplomatic missions in Islamabad.