” Rural Women demand – Saada Huqq – Manshoor wich raakh”.
” Put our right in your party manifesto ” demanded the participants of 5th Annual Conference on Rural Women Day in Pakistan. Rural women came from Hunza to Tharparker, from Rajan-pur to FATA and from Naseerabad in Balochistan to Bagh in Kashmir. The conference was attended by over 1000 women from 85 districts of Pakistan. Sameena Nazir, Executive Director PODA in her opening remarks said that “untill the rural women and girls are safe and prosperous, Pakistan cannot progress. It is the rural women of Pakistan who cultivate life for everyone”, she said.
The rural women made a slogan that was chanted all day “ Saada Huqq – Manshoor wich Rakh” meaning “put our rights in the manifestos”. Mr. Khalid Javaid, Executive Director Lok Virsa welcomed the guests. Solidarity messages were sent from government of Norway, Canada and EU. A special solidarity message was sent from Speaker National Assembly Dr. Fahimda Mirza who could not come to the conference. Women senators represented her.
Mrs. Samina Khalid Ghurki , Federal Minister for National Heritage and Integration emphasized that rural women play a vital role in the economy of Pakistan. She congratulated PODA for bringing all rural women from all over the Pakistan together to set up a platform for them to raise their voice. Rural women should speak up for the issues and their manifesto will be included in their policy.
Dr. Nafeesa Shah, MNA PPP and Secretary Women parliamentary Caucus said that girls’ education and health should be our priority. She appreciated Malala’s struggle for peace and promotion of education for girls. She said that Malala is a great asset of Pakistan and the protection of such brave and courageous young peace activists is our prime responsibility. Mentioning the vision of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, she said that Bhutto had raised her voice to eradicate dictatorship.
Mrs. Rubina Rauf Khalid, Senator PPP congratulated PODA for highlighting this auspicious day of rural women and commented that rural women’s manifestos are a part of many legislations passed. She said that we should keep on with our struggles for rural women rights and peace building. She said Malala message must be continued and renewed.
Mrs. Tahira Aurangzeb MNA – PML (N) saluted all the rural women for working hard in the fields, at their houses, in the factories without any recognition and reward. She said that rural women should prioritize their health first. If our rural women are healthy, we will have a healthy Pakistan.
Mrs. Zakia Shahnawaz (PML-N), Advisor to the Chief Minister of Punjab came especially from Lahore to be with the rural women who came from all parts of Pakistan. She said that the problems of rural women are same everywhere in Pakistan so therefore we must united to work together to overcome the obstacles that restrict rural women. She said we should always think as Pakistanis and work for all Pakistani women. She invited the PODA to organize similar gatherings in Punjab.
Mrs. Ghazla Gola, Minister of Women Development in Balochistan also spoke. Minister Gola said the democratic government of PPP has always supported the rights of rural women and enacted policies to ensure protection of women. She said the democratic governments give space to rural women to speak out and add their voice to the matters of the country.
Mrs. Touqeeer Fatima Bhutto, Minister of Women Development Sindh said that rural women of Pakistan are the guardians of democracy and economic development in Pakistan. The political parties must support them. She said that Pakistani elections will be incomplete without women.
Mrs. Sitara Ayaz, Minister of Women Development, Khyber-Pukhtoonkhwa could not come but she sent a special message that was read at the conference. Mr. Kevin Kalleghar, Country representative of FAO, United Nations Agricultural Program in Pakistan. He said that FAO is preparing a special program for rural women farmers of Pakistan where all the resources will be allocated to women farmers support.
All rural women came to the conclusion that they will keep struggling for their rights. Rural Women leaders and Rural Women supporters were awarded by PODA and other conference partner organizations.
The rural women showed their anger on the attack on Malala – the 14 year old girl child and said that they will continue her struggle for the rights of the girl child and for promotion of education in Pakistan”. The gathering of over 1000 rural women shouted” We are all Malala–Malala is our daughter”.
The conference was also addressed by Ms. Aqsa Khan, Director WORD, Mrs. Mahnaz Aziz, Executive Director Children Global Network, Ms. Anbreen Aajaib, Advisor SPO, Dr. Azra Talat Saeed, Director Roots for Equity, Mrs. Salma Khalid, Manager, Rural Support Programmes Network (RSPN), Mrs. Rehana Hashmi-Sisters Trust Pakistan, Ms. Uzma Tahir-ActionAid Pakistan, Mr. Saleem Malik- Executive Director Bedari, Mr. Muhammad Tehseen, Director SAP-PK, Mr. Asad Rehman, Director Sungi, also spoke and supported the rural women’s recommendations.
On the first day of the conference the rural women made a Manifesto of their rights that should be added in the manifestos of all political parties:
On the second day of the conference, the session started with political rights of women: issues, challenges and Opportunities. The session was jointly organized by Women Parliamentarian Caucus (WPC). The women parliamentarians listened to the rural women and made commitments to include their demands in their party manifesto.
The rural women presented their manifesto and highlighted the following points:
Political Manifesto of Rural Women – 2012
Today, we Pakistani women strongly condemn that we suffer from social, political and economic crisis and we do not have access to basic human rights. To eradicate these unjust and unfair treatments, the rural women of Pakistan have vowed to stand up and struggle for themselves. In PODA’s 5th Annual conference on the “International day of rural Women”, rural women from 85 different districts of Pakistan have jointly prepared a manifesto. This manifesto belongs to the rural women of Pakistan. This manifesto highlights the social, political and economic rights of the rural women. Further, this manifesto ensures that these rights are delivered to the rural women.
Today, the rural women of Pakistan vow that they will leave no stone unturned to ensure that this manifesto is implemented. In this context, we would like to present the key points of this manifesto to all representatives of Government of Pakistan so that they can incorporate our demands into their manifestos and take appropriate measures to fulfill our basic human rights. We, the rural women of Pakistan demand that:
1. Women must be given the right to vote. Political parties and government institutions must ensure the proper and valid voter registration of rural women. No women above the age of 18 must not be deprived of the right of vote.
2. Women should NOT be stopped under any circumstances from casting votes. In the event of women being stopped from casting their votes, the polling station results should be cancelled. Legal actions should be taken against all those who prevent women from casting their votes.
3. Women’s representation in the Parliament and the Senate must be ensured at a minimum of 33 % and at most 50%
4. Women should be granted a bare minimum of 33% tickets by political parties during General Seats elections.
5. Every woman must be issued a Computerized National Identification Card.
Social and Basic Human Rights
6. All political parties include steps to end violence against women so that domestic violence, religious extremism, honor killing and all other crimes against women can be halted.
7. Women’s right to land must be ensured in all parts of Pakistan including Gilgit-Baltistan.
8. Women and Girl child trafficking must be outlawed.
9. Educational curriculum must be altered to promote women’s rights.
10. All women protection laws must be implemented.
11. Policies should be prepared to end religious extremism.
12. Police system should be improved in rural areas.
13. Women and youth working for the promotion and protection of other women and girl childs should be given protection.
14. Minority and disabled women should also be provided all the above mentioned rights at all levels.
15. Special laws should be introduced for political, social and economical rights protection of old age women.
Economical Rights: Rural women must be included in all agriculture development projects. Rural women land owners should be provided with water resources. And interest free loan schemes should be introduced for them.
16. Women must be provided with education and skills development in order to reduce poverty for them. They should be given land rights.
17. In accordance with Article 25-A of free and compulsory education, women should be provided education and a minimum of 15% budget should be allotted to rural women education.
18. In every district, budget must be allocated for rural women development.
19. Policies should be made for farmer, laborer and fisher women its implementation must be guaranteed.
20. Women working in agriculture should be considered as ‘Farmers’ and should be provided with subsidies.
21. Farmer women must be given 1-14 Acers of land for free.
22. Pakistani agriculture land should not be given to foreign companies and governments.
23. FATA must be included as a national circle so that women from FATA can also benefit from Pakistani women protection laws.
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