15 October 2019
Roots for Equity and Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) celebrated the Rural Women’s Day along with Pesticide Action Network, Asia Pacific (PANAP), International Women Alliance (IWA), Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) and other people’s organizations.
PKMT organized a Conference at Kamilpur Village of district Haripur in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa, Pakistan. At the rally, Rida Batool a PKMT member stated that rural women are the back bone of overall agriculture system playing critical role in cultivating and harvesting crops and vegetables, breeding as well as breeding and taking care of livestock. But even with their back breaking contribution in food and agriculture production, women are not considered farmers given the deeply embedded patriarchal system.
According to Nazia, a landless farmer, women participate widely in cotton picking, sugar cane harvest, as well as vegetable picking but in return they have very meager wages, as low as Rs 200 to 300 rupees per day for long working days of 8-10 hours. This is all done in under extremely oppressive work conditions, either very high temperatures, or in mild to very cold temperatures.
Khalid Mahmood, PKMT District Coordinator Haripur emphasized that agro-chemical agriculture production is ridden with chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which impact women’s health. Poison laden hybrid seeds and heavy pesticide spray force women to be exposed to these toxins, and they suffer from many forms of allergies, as well as respiratory diseases.
Fiaz Ahmad, Provincial Coordinator Khyber Pakhtunkwa stated that the unsustainable production system and exploitation of natural resources under capitalism is the paramount thrust behind climate change. Climate crisis and disasters have devastated the lives of small and landless farmers especially rural women. Constant floods, unseasonal rains, hailstorms all have impacted harvests, creating acute food shortages. The vast production of sugar cane as an agro-fuel has further exacerbated women’s suffering as they are forced to harvest sugar cane and are not given any wages; instead, they are given the green fodder from sugar cane which they are forced to accept as they have no land to grow fodder for their livestock.
This is the reason that today 60 percent of country’s population is suffering from food insecurity. According to national nutrition survey 2018, 41.7 percent of women in Pakistan aged 15 to 49 are suffering from anemia. In rural areas the rate of anemia is 44.3 percent, however, 79.7 percent of women are vitamin D deficient.
In this Rural Women Day Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) demand for just, equable distribution of land among small and landless men and women farmers. PKMT also demands that all decision-making with respect to agriculture and food production must be in the hands of small producers, including small farmers, fisherfolk, and other marginalized communities. PKMT believes that food sovereignty could be the only feasible way forward for attaining self-sufficiency in food and agriculture, eradicating hunger and malnutrition and eradicating poverty.
Released by Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek / PKMT