Participants of a consultation on Friday discussed developing a strategic plan to improve the legal implementation mechanism for women in the agriculture sector because nearly 67 per cent of women in rural Pakistan work in the agriculture sector, largely in family farms and mostly unpaid for their time and labour.

The Sindh Commission on the Status of Women, in collaboration with the Potohar Organisation for Development Advocacy and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, organised a consultation at SCSW office in Karachi.

The objectives of the consultation were to discuss gender-based violence and protection issues that impact women farmers in Pakistan, to identify areas within work dynamics, policy and legislation, and local community systems, to prepare a strategy for the protection of women in agriculture, and to contribute to the emergency and resilience strategy of the government and make recommendations of safeguards for women in the agriculture sector.

Nuzhat Shirin, chairperson of the SCSW; Sameena Nazir, president of PODA; Secretary Women Development Department Anjum Iqbal; Mustafa Nangraj, director agriculture extension, Agriculture Department; Dr Shahid Gulzar, regional director labour; Farhat Parveen, member of the SCSW; Darakhshan Sualeh, member of the SCSW; Professor Dr Ismail Kumbhar, director of the Sindh Agriculture University; Tahira Pechuho, law department; advocate Palvasha Shahab; Hafeez Ur Rehman, ex-officio member of the SCSW from the Women Development Department; Activist Seemi Malik from Welfare Web; and Shiza Malik from Legal Aid Society attended the meeting.

In the consultation, the PODA and the SCSW signed an MoU extending their partnership in working towards improving the lives of women in agriculture.

It was also decided that Farhat Parveen would be appointed as focal person on behalf of the SCSW and Darakhshan Sualeh as a gender expert. The meeting was told that women make up 49 per cent of Pakistan’s 228 million population and more than 50 per cent of Pakistanis live in rural areas.

Pakistani rural women engage in all aspects of agricultural work, but despite demands, they are neither recognised nor counted for their contributions to the national economy, the participants said.

Despite the significant role that women play in agriculture, most women farmers do not own the land they work on, do not get equal wages for equal work, and often face serious problems, including harassment, economic exploitation, and physical and psychological abuse, they maintained.

However, protection issues of women farmers are not well-known or documented in Pakistan and have not been addressed by policymakers in a systematic way shared.

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