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ActionAid Pakistan launches campaign for women’s right to land

Islamabad: Tuesday, March 08, 2011: On the occasion of 100th International Women’s Day (IWD), ActionAid launched a campaign to support landless women farmers in securing their right to land.

Women’s right to land includes their access, control and ownership of the land and other productive resources.

“Women work three times over men  but are still not recognized as farmers. We can counter rising hunger and food insecurity by supporting women farmers who grow more than 80% of food in Pakistan. They are subject to multi-faceted injustice – they are paid no reward against the farm labour and household chores that they do on a daily basis. ” Says ActionAid Pakistan’s Country director Jemal Ahmed.

On top of that, women suffer violence in the name of tradition and culture such as early marriage, exchange marriage, honour killing, no share in inheritance or property, lack of reproductive rights and absolute poverty. “He adds.

The campaign launch was announced here on Tuesday in a press conference attended by landless women peasants, civil society representatives and development workers. Women’s right to land campaign in Pakistan has its roots in ‘HungerFREE Women Campaign’ launched back in 2007. Since then, ActionAid has proactively taken up women farmer’s issues particularly denial of their right to land which results in their political, social and economic subjugation.

The major milestone of the years-long struggle is allocation of land to landless women peasants by the Government of Sindh. Interestingly, it allocated 70% of the land to poor landless women whereas the remaining 30% was allocated to other landless peasants. However, after the recent flood disaster, women farmers are once again faced with issues land re-demarcation and resettlement.

Speaking at the press conference, ActionAid’s women’s rights officer Rukhsana Shama said “Women farmers are subject to all forms of subjugation and discrimination. If we want to end hunger, we must support landless women to access, own and control food producing resources including land.”

Women peasants from different parts of the country participated in the press conference. Saba, a women activist from  Kot Adu (South Punjab), Neelum Bahar a women farmer and hari activist from Nawabshah (Sindh) and Gulshan Sultana, a social worker from Dera Ghazi Khan (South Punjab) shared their experiences  and termed gender violence and economic injustice as the two major hurdles in the way of securing women’s equal status in the society.

In the end, the participants asked all stakeholders particularly the media, civil society and concerned citizens tojoin hands with them in securing their entitlements as women farmers. They demanded that women should be acknowledged as farmers and effective measures should be taken to put an end to violence against women that is being carried out in the name of culture and tradition.