Caritas Pakistan strives to help women farmers

Provided programs also aim to promote interfaith harmony

August 19, 2016
Women farm laborers in Pakistan remain trapped in traditional roles, which see them working long hours for little pay or individual rights, say speakers at a Caritas Pakistan conference held in Lahore on Aug. 18.

"Women in rural areas work from 16 to 18 hours and yet get half the wages as compared to male farmers," Sumera Saleem, senior program officer from the Aurat (women) Foundation, told 150 hundred participants at the "Empowered Women, Empowered Pakistan" conference.

"Most of them are not legal owners of the livestock. They cannot even travel alone," she said.

Fauzia Waqar, chairperson of the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women, said that women farm workers are trapped in a decades old traditional role.

"Shy and suppressed, they generally hesitate from registering as farmers in the union councils," Waqar said.

Trying to turn the situation around for women farmers, Caritas Pakistan's livelihood and food security program has so far held six farmer field schools that was open to both men and women.

Amjad Gulzar, the executive director Caritas Pakistan, said Christians, Muslims and Hindus attend these programs and related conferences.

"The bishops especially support livelihood programs because it brings interfaith harmony," said Gulzar.

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