National Commission on the Status of Women

Government of Pakistan

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Rural Women's Day14-15 October 2015

NCSW collaborates with PODA Pakistan for the 8th Annual Conference on Rural Women Day in Pakistan 
The 8th Annual Conference on Rural Women Day  was organized on 14 - 15 October at Lok Virsa, Islamabad. A number of key government and non government NGOs collaborated to hold this event which was attended by over 1600 participants from 107 districts of Pakistan who had gathered in Islamabad for the conference. The theme of the conference was Rural Women: Democracy, Development and Peace. A separate panel discussion was conducted by NCSW at the session "Mobilizing Strategic Support towards Ending Violence Against Women & Girls”.

Baidarie, OXFAM, AWAZ Voice and Accountability, UN Women, Rural Support Programmes Network, Green Rural Development Organization, Cholistan Development and Lok Virsa  included some of the other collaborating partners.

Message from Chairperson NCSW on  Rural Women’s Day 15 October 2015

Greetings from the National Commission on the Status of Women on the International Women’s Day, that falls on 15th October every year.  It is the day for reaching out to rural women and acknowledging their contribution to agriculture which s the mainstay of our economy. On this day we get the opportunity to hear from our rural sisters of their issues and problems; their achievements and successes  and to collectively plan to overcome the barriers in the way of their realizing their full potential. The Commission congratulates the Potohar Organization for Development Advocacy (PODA) for continuing with their tradition of annually hosting this largest congregation of rural women and organizing the 8th Annual Rural Women Conference, 2015.

Across the world, as in Pakistan, we find that while rural women play a major role for the developmental change in rural communities their work is not fully recognized, documented or adequately reflected in our national statistics. Most of the agricultural work is subsumed in the category of unpaid family workers and non-farm activity falls under the category of informal workers (75%). Currently, in terms of sheer numbers, Punjab and Sindh have the highest number of female rural workers.  These include subsistence farmers as well as labourers and entrepreneurs who may even be primary breadwinners, juggling the triple burden of work in times of serious economic stresses. This situation is further exacerbated by frequent natural disasters and climate change in Pakistan which has resulted in destroying the livelihoods and homes of hundreds and thousands of rural women in Pakistan and results in further inequalities and vulnerabilities. More efforts and investments are needed to expand basic health, education, skills and capacities that correspond with the needs on the ground. At the same time, urgent attention is required towards ensuring more equitable control of land for poorest landless women whose share in land ownership is less than 3%. Most importantly, violence against women and the fear of violence remain key obstacles for rural women, both outside and inside the home.

Addressing issues of this segmentwill help us realize our own national development goals. This is the time for us to focus on the needs and interests of rural women   who form the majority of female population in the country and especially on female youth. We are embarking on setting our goals and indicators for the next 15 years in line with the Sustainable Development Goals that Pakistan has committed to just last month.  Young women need to be of paramount concern to us, both within the government and the women’s movement. 

There are measures already in place for support for the very poor rural women through Benazir Income Support Programme, schemes of giving land to the landless in Sindh and joint ownership of property to women in Punjab.More such schemes to build confidence of women and engender economic empowerment are needed. Energies of government institutions, women legislators, civil society organisations and soon to be elected local governments will have to be mobilized to ensure women’s well-being and security .regardless of their religion, ethnicity and class. 

National Commission on the Status of Women is mandated by law to  promote and protect women’s rights and ensure gender equality. It is committed to working towards those goals in coordination and collaboration with government institutions and departments, women and men legislators and politicians, civil society organisations and the women’s movement. The Commission calls on all participants of the Rural Women’s Conference to pledge their commitment to work together for rural women’s cause in Pakistan.

Khawar Mumtaz
Chairperson, National Commission on the Status of Women

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