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Rural women workers seek agrarian reforms

ISLAMABAD, Nov 9: Rural women workers have called for introduction of agrarian reforms including limitation of private landholdings and imposition of progressively-scaled agricultural income tax, ensuring that peasant women benefited from the revenues equal to men.

This was stated by women rights manager ActionAid, Aqsa Khan at a briefing on the experiences of thousands of rural women participating in ‘HungerFREE Women Campaign’ that had been launched on the Rural Women’s Day on October 15.

She said the campaign was gaining momentum as in a momentous mobilisation of women at the grassroots level, poor women farmers, home-based women workers and fisher folk women were demanding their equal share in land and property as a long-term solution to end the food crisis. These women are endorsing their collective charter of demands and engaging with the political leaders at the provincial level as they look ahead towards national level culmination of the historic journey.

After completing the journey in Sindh and Balochsitan, women are being mobilised in Punjab now, moving towards NWFP and Azad Kashmir.

She said the food crisis had increased women’s work load both in the fields and in homes. The government should ensure women’s right to land to ensure livelihood and food security for them.

Participants of the cross-country women’s caravan named ‘HungerFREE Charter Journey’ said while they appreciated government’s measures to empower women and raise their social status, there was a need for legislation to protect women against economic and social exploitation.

Highlighting the demands included in the charter, Ms Khan said these included equal share in land and property to men and women. She said a minimum of eight acres per family should be allocated to local peasants and agriculture workers particularly women.

The women workers are also demanding distribution of cultivable state-owned land among landless peasants according to the soil conditions including suitability, productivity and feasibility.

She said any land or property inherited by women particularly in the rural areas should be registered in their names. The state should strictly enforce inheritance laws and ensure that inheritance cases of widows and orphans are taken up on a priority basis by special or family courts and settled within six months.
Source: Dawn