Securing Land Rights to Empower Marginalized Poorest Women:
PDI joins hands with OXFAM to organize rally
To contribute in empowering marginalized and poorest women by securing their land rights, Participatory Development Initiative (PDI) in collaboration of OXFAM took out rally and briefed the mediamen, which is part of Dharti campaign, from DC office to local press club, here on Saturday.
Rally led by Imtiaz Kunbhar, Saima Hassan, Nelofar Bhurgari and others was taken out from Deputy Commissioner Office Umerkot to local press club, participants carrying banners and placards marched on the roads.
Speaking on the rally and briefing the media-men, Imran Kunbhar representative of PDI Umerkot said that Pakistan is struggling to remain self-sufficient in wheat, appears to be losing the battle. Its population of 185 million is in 2010, which is projected to reach 246 million by 2025, it will face to feed 61 million more people in 15 year. Added that, less than 3% women have land ownership in Pakistan, which proved that women are at vulnerable stage in Pakistan as largely deprived of the ownership rights.
He added that Government of Sindh first time in the history of Pakistan distributed land among poor and landless women through its land distribution program. So far about 55000 acres of land was distributed among 3800 women in 17 districts. The program was aimed to creating tremendous opportunities of empowerment for the poorest of poor women as they were becoming owner of land and were to be able to cultivate crops and properly feed their families. But there were number of issues and challenges with this program due to absence of proper mechanism and transparency.
He cited that in first process, lack of participation of civil society and RSPNs (Rural Support Program network),beneficiary identification process problems, ineffective publicity of the Land Distribution Program, lack of facilitation to the land grant applicants, non-fruitful open katcharies for Land Distribution in which women participation was zero, lack of preference to women in the Land Distribution, slow process of land distribution among landless women, lack of equality in the quantity of Land Distributed were observed.
Nelofer Bhurgari said that Government of Sindh, distributed 2,117.8 acres in two phases among 257 land grantees 395 women and 40 men of District Umerkot. But overall scenario of post land distribution also remained disturbing; it also suffered number of problems, as many land grantees were not issued allotment orders. No land proper demarcation carried out. Supporting packages were not reached to real beneficiaries or it delayed, number of granted lands went in appeals/litigations. Issuance of ownership process was delayed, legal institutional and monitoring system for sustainability was also weak, available land and land grantee identification was imperfect, unleveled, disputed, waterlogged etc land was identified and distributed among the poor land grantees.
Saima Hassan said that this rally is part of Dharti campaign. This is an economic justice campaign launched in Pakistan to contribute in empowering marginalized and poorest women by securing their land rights having 03 motives Annaj, Insaf, Khushhali, (grain, justice and prosperity).
On this occasion peasants and PDI, presented a 12 point charter of demands of the farmers. Which include:-
The Government of Sindh should immediately start the third phase of distributing land to landless women. It should undertake comprehensive land reforms to reduce the concentration of land into the hands of a few. The land governance system like land management, utilization, revenue and legal systems needs to be made truly accountable and transparent including having a complaint mechanism and redressal system to resolve land disputes of the poor women and men.
Poor women and men residing in rural areas should be given residential/household entitlement through registration and regularization of existing villages and distribution of economically viable land for homesteads. National and provincial residence security policy need to be formulated by numbers of parliament immediately to provide adequate housing for all especially women, children, elderly and religious minorities etc. The tenancy act/ordinance in all four provinces needs to be amended to provide the right to form unions, address issues of fair wages and share in agriculture produce and formation of farmer courts.
Farmers’ courts should be established at districts level to provide justice on issue such as loans of bounded labors, distribution of water, land disputes. This should be part of judicial system and will be subordinate to the higher and superior judiciary. A long term holistic agriculture policy must be developed that focuses on the rights of small farmers, the impact of climate change, ensuring registration of small farmers and recognizing role of women as farmers. Government at both national and provincial level needs to immediately invest in agriculture focusing on small scale farmers /producers.
This should include safety-net/social protection programs such as health insurance, crop insurance, and loans for small women and men farmers, investing in collectivization of small farmers, good quality and sufficient inputs like seeds and fertilizers, adequate assistance to store grain. The government needs to play a proactive role in ensuring that small farmers are getting a fair price in the market for their agriculture produce and role of middlemen is reduced. Stop leasing large tracts of land to foreign governments or promoting corporate farming initiatives that benefit only a few and in future, it will push the country to food insecurity.
Instead government should invest in providing input and services to small farmers at grass roots level to enhance national agriculture productivity. Rehabilitation of damaged/destroyed irrigation channels should take place immediately before the next monsoon season.