Pakistan being an agro-based economy generates a significant economic resource through agriculture. Other than providing food; this sector also produces raw material for other sectors like sugar and textile which results in development of a country. This sector is a source of direct or indirect employment which results in income generation in adjoining areas. By supporting these industries agriculture shares a considerable amount of foreign exchange earnings through export of these products. If we focus more on this sector it can play an effective role in crabbing poverty and employment generation in rural areas hence flow of people from rural to urban areas can be reduced.
Women are contributing in almost all fields of life. Their efforts at certain level are not appreciated as per the effort they are putting in each work. They are back bone of national economy and plays vital role in agricultural growth of any country. Women in Global Workforce can be broadly divided into following sectors, agriculture has approx. 25% contribution in overall working force.
Women comprise 41% of the world’s agricultural labor force, which rises to 78% in some countries. In Pakistan 67% women are involved in this sector.
Rural areas where the source of income is mostly through agriculture comprise major part of Pakistan. Women play an active role in almost every sphere of agriculture although they have different responsibilities according to their gender but they have substantial knowledge on crop varieties. Generally men contribute more on physical labor intensive work like land preparation and other distantly located jobs. While female undertake repetitious and time consuming tasks particularly close to home.
They contribute in the entire operations interrelated to crop production such as sowing, irrigation, plant protection, weeding, storage, transplanting, and harvesting. They are also engaged in household management, cattle management, water, fuel and fodder collection, and goat and poultry rearing. Women are seen in almost every section of agricultural development but many of these activities are not defined as “economically active employment” in Pakistan although they are essential to the wellbeing of rural households and integral part for our living. Women’s multi-dimensional roles in agriculture need to be recognized.
For most of the families agriculture is seasonal activity and the earnings are not enough for the whole year to survive, as a result male members of households are forced to go to cities to find an alternate source of livelihood. This increases responsibility of women to take care of household affairs as well as work in fields. Although it is globally accepted that the female contribution to the overall economy in terms of their contribution to agriculture is high throughout Asia and the Pacific region but they are working as, seasonal or part-time workers or their work goes without recognition. The extent of their involvement is not acknowledged and invariably women are either considered as unpaid labor or paid less than men, for the same work.
The situation of unpaid women labor force in rural areas of Pakistan is very alarming as there are 67% women involved in agricultural work in the rural sector while 60% of their work is being utilised as unpaid, revealed a Rural Women in Pakistan Status Report 2018 launched by United Nations Women.
Pakistan is a male dominated society in which female are with them in every field rather in some areas they perform better than men but they are deprived to get access to productive resources and considerable livelihood earning. They are not given due respect and it is aggravated by policy makers in which women’s participation in agriculture is not recognized.
To have their full involvement we have to create awareness in women to understand their rights and also have to make men understand women’s importance and role in this area. Without women’s participation we will not be able to fulfill the demands of increasing population, and at the same time remain competitive globally. Efforts need to be made by the government and other supporting institutions to achieve their goals for agricultural development, economic growth and food security and to recognize contribution of women and enhance their economic growth.
According to FAO, if women farmers had equal access to land ownership, credit, farming equipment and new technologies, yields can increase by 30 per cent per household and countries can experience an increase in agricultural output by 2.5 to 4 per cent. Women also reinvest up to 90 per cent of their earnings back into their households—that’s the money spent on nutrition, food, health care, school, and income-generating activities that help in breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty.
The international development community has recognized that agriculture is an engine of growth and poverty reduction in countries where it is the main occupation of the poor. Women make essential contributions to the agricultural and rural economies in all developing countries including Pakistan so their issues need to be addressed on priority basis.
Women are paid less or none as we experience in agriculture sector – it doesn’t matter how we justify it – there is gender discrimination and it’s an issue of equality and justice which needs to be addressed on priority.