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Women's Caravan culminates in a protest march infront of the Parliament


File 1165Rural women's protest

Islamabad, Wednesday May 25: Rural women while culminating their Caravan to highlight the miseries of the flood affected women, held a protest demonstration in front of the Parliament asking for special budgetary package for women support programme.

The unique visual stunt put together by flood-hit rural women culminated here on Wednesday. The women’s caravan that started on Tuesday comprising a large number of women and girls from flood hit areas demanded women’s prioritisation in the flood rehabilitation process, and budgetary allocation for women support programme.

"Women and girls have been the worst victims of 2010 floods due to their pre existing vulnerabilities. After almost a year of the devastating floods, millions of women are still desperately striving to rebuild their lives and livelihoods.

Therefore it is imperative that government and NGOs keep their focus on women’s rehabilitation. Only strong, empowered women can build a safe and prosperous society

Floods have pushed rural women into further poverty and suffering, but they have immense resilience, and courage of conviction; which is why they are here today to tell the world of their problems, and demand prioritization in the fiscal budget 2011-12. Government must allocate budget for women support programme, which means they should be given watan cards, proper shelter and income generating opportunities. "

Sameena Nazir Director Potohar Organisation for Development Advocacy (PODA) highlighted that the impact of floods is not over yet. There are still millions of internally displaced families that are seeking to rebuild their lives. Therefore budgets should be allocated at federal and provincial levels so that poor people can be supported to overcome the flood devastation.

She further pointed out that since women primarily have the responsibility of feeding every person in the family, they should also be given assistance in terms of food production and food storage facilities.

On the occasion, women and girls shared their personal stories and testimonies with the audience. They said that poverty has turned women into beggars. One such woman is Manzooran Mai from Taunsa (South Punjab) who said she had turned to begging to feed her six children. Girls like Farzana shared that have had to leave school as her parents cannot afford to buy books and pay school fee.

Woman shared that they have not been given watan cards, while in some cases the watan cards are unable to draw any money from the bank. 14 years old Umaima from Kot Adu (South Punjab) says "Only rich are getting support from the government while we poor people are at the mercy of the nature.