ActionAid is a global movement of people working together to further human rights and defeat poverty for all.

Women’s Right to Land

Pakistan has an agrarian economy in which land is considered to be a symbol of economic, political and social power.

Due to deep rooted patriarchy and cultural norms, most of the property, including land and other productive resources are owned and controlled by men. This leads to economic, political and social suppression of women, which increases their dependence on men, thereby lessening their control over their own lives.

Keeping in view the structural inequalities and discriminatory practices against women, and a denial of their fundamental right to (own and control) productive resources, ActionAid Pakistan ha launched a campaign to help thousands of landless women farmers, peasants and rural women to demand their right to own and control land. 

This campaign is linked to ActionAid’s HungerFREE campaign, which is a global campaign aimed at forcing governments to deliver on the first Millennium Development Goal: to halve extreme poverty and hunger by 2015. The “women’s right to land” campaign  also builds up on the Pakistan chapter of HungerFREE women campaign that was run across the country in 2007  and mobilised thousands of women across Pakistan to demand their right to land as a means to achieving food security at the level of a household, community and society.

One of the major successes of the campaign was the allotment of government’s land to landless farmers in Sindh.  70 percent of the beneficiaries were women. Other provincial governments, especially the Punjab government also announced land allotment for women, for which initial surveys are underway.

The recent flood emergency in Pakistan has exacerbated poverty and deprivation amongst already poor and vulnerable groups, especially women and girls. Floods of 2010

In July this year the flood hit the north-west of Pakistan heading southwards in the following months and devastating huge parts of the country. People died. Hundred thousands of families lost their homes, their livestock or their cultivated fields. The flood did not only destroy the livelihood of already poor people but also affected important parts of the infrastructure including education and health facilities.

Furthermore, the flood caused the erosion of soil and the damage of irrigation channels and cultivated fields. As a result, subsistence-based families became more vulnerable and dependent on external support for a certain time. In a state, where agriculture constitutes the main source of income, the damage in the agrarian sector poses a long-term problem for the entire economy of Pakistan.  Share croppers, women farmers and landless peasants have been the most affected. Post flood land re-demarcation and redistribution are central in making agricultural land available for cultivation and food production but there is a great likelihood of these processes being politicised and manipulated by the powerful groups. This would rob women of their rightful share of land.

In order to build civil society’s pressure to acknowledge women failed labourers as Farmers, ensure their right to own and control land and other productive resources (credit, market linkages, agricultural extension services) and lobby to include women in post-flood land demarcation and redistribution, ActionAid Pakistan has launched a year-long campaign staring from 8th March 2011, the 100th anniversary of international women’s day.

A number of activities will be carried out throughout the year towards the campaign objectives which will include:

  • Seminars and advocacy sessions with civil society groups, farmers, like-minded community based organisations and farmers’ organisations
  • Media sensitisation sessions to provide background material and motivate the media, as a campaign partner, to highlight the issue
  • Engage with youth to moblise them to support women’s cause
  • Visual actions such as rallies, protests, stunts and sit-ins to push for affirmative actions on part of the government
  • Women’s caravans
  • Photo exhibitions and screenings of documentary films on the issue
  • Effectively using social media such as blogs to add force to women’s demands