Women are playing a major role for the developmental change in rural communities in Pakistan. But unfortunately their work is not regarded as productive, organized and documented all over the world. However, in this present age of industrialization, rural women are uplifting the living standards by performing various activities in Pakistan. Since our population of women is approximately 50% of the total population and the majority lives in rural areas so the main focus of development is rural communities and agriculture.
Women’s labour force participation rate has increased over the years, as they have been intensively involved in agriculture and its allied fields. They perform abundant labour intensive jobs such as weeding, cotton stick collections, grass cutting, picking, and separation of seeds from fibre According to Labour Survey of Pakistan (2006-07), 70% of female labour force are engaged in agriculture and its allied fields and play very hard-hitting role like milking, feed and watch of the livestock.
Due to media, women folk are becoming aware of their rights regarding health, food, child care etc. Women folk have shattered the shackles of slavery in rural areas. They have come out of the houses and have also indulged themselves in teaching because mainly due to lack of education we are far behind other nations.
Various NGO’s run by women folk who are aiding pilot projects in rural areas, informing people about sanitation, health, education and better facilities for the rural communities like schools, hospitals, gyne centres etc. Prevention from Polio, Chickenpox, Dengue and other diseases is a regular feature in our rural communities. Educated women who migrated from rural to urban after marriage have also played an essential role as they are actively participating in elections. Their representation in assembly has also increased. Our main voters live in rural areas.
We are on the right path but it will take a giant effort from all the stakeholders including the government elected members and foremost the will to do things. Infrastructure is still in the hands of Jagirdars, feudal lords and so on. They want women folk under their control. Apart from all this, change has also started to occur.
Our handicrafts especially handmade embroidery, Multani dress designs with vibrant colors are famous all over the world. If given the proper platform, women can be promoted through chamber of commerce and industries. The female laborers who are crafted to design and make these designs can increase our exports. But they are being exploited by the exporters for their personal good and enrichment. The charges they are giving to these craftsmen are barely enough to meet their requirements.
Change in these societies can only be brought within rural communities by spreading proper education. Education will enlighten them and money can make their life comfortable and can increase the production of their handicrafts. They can buy raw material, power machinery etc. So this change will affect their life style as well. In this regard government must formulate policies in order to enhance their skills and their work should be counted in economic indicators.
The best method to increase the agriculture yield per acre was the cooperative system known as kuwatza by the Israelis. Without foreign aid they helped each other and gave remarkable results to the world. So the foremost thing is that the people of the community especially women folk should join hands with each other and discuss matters of mutual interests. The well-to-do should keep the needy and the poor so that they can keep on surviving and stand on their two feet. Individually no women folk without proper backing can bring change but as a society they can have a voice of their own and their demands can be met only then they will able to bring a dynamic change in the rural community. Exertions should be made for increasing women’s access to suitable sources of information friendly home management and farm based technologies and opportunities to work shoulder to shoulder with their husbands in non-farm activity for improving rural poverty and mounting gender equality.
Moreover, major steps have to be taken by the women folk themselves and they can choose their own spokeswomen who are capable of expressing their views, difficulties and are strong enough to stand against the tyranny of the feudal lords. This will bring a revolutionary change in the rural communities. The answer is simple who will bell the cat.
Written By:Mariam Daud Saeed
BS (Hons) Sociology
Punjab University, Lahore