Provincial Stakeholders Alliance (PSA) Spearheads Empowerment for Women Agricultural Workers

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 The formation of the platform of Provincial Stakeholders Alliance (PSA) was a momentous milestone for the rights and empowerment of Women Agricultural Workers in Sindh.

The event in this regard was held in Karachi which proved to be a significant step in addressing the issues raised in the research report titled ‘The Hands that Feed Us: Struggles of Women Agricultural Workers in Pakistan’ produced by Awaz Foundation Pakistan: Centre for Development Services, NARI Foundation and the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA).

The Provincial Stakeholders Alliance is a platform of representatives from various relevant stakeholders, including government agencies, non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, bar council, and representatives from the media.

Rural women in Pakistan’s agriculture sector, often overlooked, confront significant challenges such as lower wages, malnutrition, discrimination, and exploitation due to patriarchal norms.

It was already highlighted by Awaz Foundation Pakistan’s study that underscored issues like limited legal awareness and urged action from district departments and ministries.

The platform, aimed at fostering the empowerment of women agricultural workers, brought together various stakeholders committed to creating positive change. Notable individuals, whose insights shaped the discussions, provided their valuable views, and expressed their commitment to the cause.

In his welcoming address, Iqbal Ahmed Detho, the Chairperson of the Sindh Human Rights Commission, said, “A key step in raising awareness of the rights of women agricultural workers is the formation of the Provincial Stakeholders Alliance.

To guarantee their empowerment and well-being, we must all work together to put the appropriate measures into place.”
Mr. Detho articulated, “This meeting aims to conduct a gap analysis, addressing the challenges hindering the implementation of the Sindh Women Agricultural Workers Act, 2019, and to provide actionable recommendations to governmental bodies and civil society. Integration among relevant departments such as Social Protection, Social Welfare, Labour, and Minority Affairs is imperative. While Sindh boasts progressive legislation supporting women’s rights, inadequate awareness and operational inefficiencies impede effective implementation.”

The platform facilitated vital discussions, including the formulation of the “Rules of Business” for The Sindh Women Agricultural Workers Act, 2019. Leading the discourse, Mr. Detho emphasized, “The formulation of rules of business is instrumental in providing a framework for the Act’s effective implementation, safeguarding the rights of women agricultural workers.”

Highlighting the responsibilities of the Provincial Stakeholders Alliance, Mr. Detho stressed, “Active engagement in advocacy and coordination efforts is paramount for effecting positive changes in the lives of women agricultural workers.”

Mr.Zia ur Rehman, Chief Executive of AwazCDS-Pakistan, Mr.Anwar Mahar & Ms. Shazia Abbasi NARI Foundation Sukkur introduced the project and the purpose of the PSA, emphasizing, “This platform aims to be a catalyst for positive change, ensuring the rights and empowerment of women agricultural workers are prioritized and protected by ensuring the passage of rules of business and implementation of The Sindh Women Agricultural Workers Act 2019.”

Mr. Rehman addressed the challenges faced by women in agriculture, including harassment, hazardous working conditions, lack of maternity leave, and unequal pay. He underscored the imperative for Awaz Foundation, NARI Foundation, and SHRC to spearhead efforts in sensitizing government officials regarding the rights of women employed in the agricultural sector.

“The Women Agricultural Workers Act, 2019, represents a significant stride towards women’s empowerment; however, the absence of rules of business hampers its implementation. The primary agenda of today’s introductory meeting is to deliberate and formulate the rules of business for this legislation,” he said.

Mr. Zia ur Rehman expressed that PSA will coordinate to enhance advocacy efforts to promote rights based and coordinated approach for the passage of rules of business of “The Sindh Women Agricultural Workers Act, 2019 and will also serve as advocates for reforming related laws, increased programs and increased budget allocation for support of women agricultural workers.

He also took the lead in finalizing the “Follow-up actions,” outlining the practical steps that would be taken to translate discussions into meaningful actions. “Follow-up actions are key to turning our discussions into tangible outcomes, ensuring the empowerment of women agricultural workers is not just a goal but a reality,” said Mr. Zia ur Rehman.

Mr. Omar Dawoodjee, Director (Operations and Resource Mobilization FORUM-ASIA) gave the concluding remarks for the meeting. He shared that with the help of their partners, they are working on capacity building of government officials, marginalized communities, and civil society.

He emphasized the improvement of working environment for women and the need for implementation of The Sindh Women Agricultural Workers Act, 2019. *The End*

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