LAHORE: Oxfam in Pakistan and Indus Consortium organised a rural women’s convention where over 80 smallholder women farmers, from five districts of Punjab, presented a ‘charter of demands’ to Punjab Minister for Environment Protection Zakia Shah Nawaz Khan.
The charter demands the approval of the climate change policy with proper resource allocation for smallholder women farmers and their participation in budget decision-making. The convention was held at a local hotel and was attended by a large number of people from civil society organisations, government officials, environmentalists, academia, corporate entities and development organisations.
Upon being presented the charter of demands, Minister Zakia Shah Nawaz said, “Farmers, especially female play an important role in contributing towards Pakistan’s economy. They are the backbone of our country.” She highlighted that as per the directives of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, we are investing heavily in educating our rural youth as they are unaware of their rights; once educated, they will be able to understand their rights better.
Presenting their ‘charter of demands’, the female farmers from rural district of Punjab said that natural disasters are affecting their crops which the government ought to protect.
They further demanded that the government should provide good quality seeds for improved crops and loans should be provided to small female farmers on easily installments. They also demanded sufficient allocation for agriculture in the provincial budget.
Oxfam’s Programme Director Javeria Afzal welcomed the participants and encouraged them to support rural women farmers. “Women are key to food production with 72.7% of women engaged in agriculture”, she said. Creating conditions that allow rural people to have more resilient livelihoods is a crucial component of any plan to tackle poverty and hunger, she said. Oxfam addresses the global sustainable development goals of zero hunger and climate action with the aim to end all forms of hunger and help mitigate climate-related disasters by 2030, she added.
The Women’s Convention provided a platform to Punjab’s female farmers to raise their voices, share their concerns, and present their demands to prompt the government to respond effectively and systemically to domestic climate change threats and to incorporate women focused schemes in the budget of the provincial government in the upcoming year.
“Hashoo Group is working through the Foundation to enable young women and men farmers and producers through a wide range of rural development approaches. We believe in leveraging local knowledge with scientific research for the benefit of rural communities.” Said Hashoo Foundation Country Director Dr Ayesha Khan.