From economic injustice to karo kari
KARACHI: Shamim Kazmi, president of the Association of Business, Professional and Agricultural Women, said here on Thursday that 99 percent of agricultural land was the property of men but women constitute 70 percent of tillers.
She said women’s contribution in agriculture, forestry and hunting was 68.4 percent but was not registered in official documents.
She made the observation at a seminar to mark World Rural Women’s Day at the Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF). She said blindness was increasing among women and there were more incidents of disability among them, but this was not recognised. She pointed out that 70 percent of women in a medical camp she organised in Sindh had tuberculosis, which indicates women’s pathetic condition in rural areas.
She suggested that there should be agriculture utility stores in rural areas where women agriculturists could sell their produce. She said only big landlords were benefiting from the Agricultural Development Bank and the fate of the country could change if women were given land. There is great scope for horticultural produce and women could be involved in it, she suggested. She said Pakistan had a variety of wild birds and women could be involved in bird farming and animal husbandry.
“Credit is not the answer to our problems,” she remarked and said women need to be ensured social security. Dr Saeeda Malik, the Sindh minister for women’s development, said a draft ordinance on “karo kari” or so-called “honour killing” (which she described as a “gangrene” in Pakistani society) has been sent by the Sindh government to the federal government and hopefully there would be legislation against it soon.
She said biologically there was no difference between men and women and although the Constitution is clear that there should be no discrimination against women, there was a “parallel law” in the country, the jirga, and men and women had to fight against it together. Unless the mindset changed and men and women complemented each other, the conditions of the vast majority of our women would remain the same, she said. She explained that natural resources in Pakistan were being rapidly depleted and because of deforestation, rural women had to work harder to get fuel.
She said Pakistan has one of the highest mortality rates in the world and women had a greater disability rate than men.
Women should have better access to property, she said, since rural women have the greater role in agriculture, although that goes unnoticed. She said a PC-1 was ready to involve rural women in cottage industries and the scheme would be launched soon. She said women’s contribution should not be marginalised and the media should not portray Pakistan as degrading women since neither Islam nor Pakistan did so.Wali Muhammad Roshan, chairman of the Sindh Graduates Association, said women were considered as mere property in Muslim societies. He said when Pakistan came into being, it was unthinkable in rural Sindh for girls to go to school, but now attitudes were changing and women were acquiring education and today men are not as opposed to women’s education.
He regretted that there were no female doctors in rural Sindh since they prefer to be posted to urban areas where they can earn much more. He said the Sindh government has sent a draft ordinance to the federal government on “karo kari” but legislation has yet to be passed. —Shahid Husain