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‘Alleviate growing gender inequalities and poverty’

  • October 18, 2020

Islamabad : As we are facing the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, policy interventions that address the specific needs of women farmers are the need of the time to mitigate the current adverse effects on economy, expedite the recovery process in rural areas, and to alleviate growing gender inequalities and poverty.

The consensus was reached at a session organised during the second day of the three-day annual conference on International Rural Women Day on Friday. This is 13th annual conference organised by PODA-Pakistan in connection with International Rural Women Day that is celebrated on October 15.

The theme of the conference is ‘Rural Women’s Leadership in Climate Change Adaptation, COVID-19 Response, Governance and Disaster Preparedness.’ The conference will be concluded on Saturday on award distribution ceremony in Lok Virsa. They identified water scarcity a major problem that needed to be solved and tackled by the government on urgent basis.

A very significant session was organised on Friday to celebrate International Food Day on theme of “Women Farmers and Climate Change Adaptation in Pakistan.” The women farmers of the session validated through their testimonial addresses that the climate change has affected their lives adversely. The rural women representative from four provinces alongwith Azad Kashmir and Gilgt-Baltistan identified factors due to which hostile and adverse changes occurred in their lives due to COVID-19 pandemic.

The speakers were of the view that the pandemic response needed to be focused to address the growing inequalities faced by the rural women of Pakistan while considering the negative impacts unreasonably borne by them.

Minà Dowlatchahi, FAO Representative in Pakistan was the guest of honor during the session on “Women Farmers and Climate Change Adaptation in Pakistan.” World Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) supported PODA-Pakistan to hold this session on the subject to share their accomplishments where both and men are collaborating with FAO in Sindh and Balochistan. FAO Representative was of the view that platforms like this conference are important to unlock the potential of women who need to have equal participation in every sphere of life. Addressing the gathering she said that to expedite the struggle for your rights you need to keep working and raise collective voice to move your plan of action.

President of PODA-Pakistan, Sameena Nazir said Rural “rural women are the center of agriculture and in most cases are solely responsible for food security of their families and nutrition of their families and children specially. They need to be incorporated well in the government policies, she added.

The rural women addressed the conference were Bushra Tabassum from AJK, Bismillah Irum, Khanewal, Shazia, Hunza, Safia Baloch from Balochistan, Farzana Ashraf, from Chakwal, Nasreen Awan, from Sahiwal, Pushpa Kumari from Hyderabad, Kanzadi from Tharparkar, Marvi Abida from Badin, Shamim un Nisa from Badin spoke on the occasion and highlighted issues which are fundamental to women’s development.

Khanzadi from Tharparkar and Marvi Abida from Badin districts highlighted that due to COVID-19 men stayed at home which increased unemployment, causing depression among youth. Also violence has been increased during lockdown phases. These factors led to suicidal incidents as around 40 persons committed suicides. Khanzadi pointed out that during pandemic incidents of child marriages increased in their nearby districts.

The rural women identified that they were not able to deliver their products to the markets because of lockdowns. Their cash crops served as fodder for cattle leading to food shortages like the way wheat price raised, after lockdown periods.

The rural women speakers were of the view the government should enhance agriculture research base to equip women with better coping facilities in the times of pandemic. The rural women representatives said that if women would not be part of the solution then food scarcity and crisis would hit hard the people who are at the moment facing rise in prices of flour and other commodities.

Naseem Riaz said that women and community organisations needed to work together to solve food scarcity at local level through different initiatives like kitchen gardens.

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