Women: neglected labor in agricultural sector

IN AGRICULTURAL sector, women are active labor not limited to fields and farms, but playing essential role for increasing agriculture productivity from sowing to grain cleaning, threshing, livestock, cottage industry, food storage and so on. Rural women of Pakistan are not only accountable for household activities but are also engaged in rural economic activities by delivering services in every segment of crop production and livestock. In our country, women are making up above two-third of the labor force in agricultural production. They are performing great role by working with full passion in production of crops correctly from soil preparation to harvesting till food protection; in addition to their domestic chores of household. Besides looking after the whole family, women surpasses the men in various spheres of agricultural responsibilities; while their efforts go unrecognized. In fact, women are the backbone of Pakistani agricultural economy. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations data shows that women are about 41 percent of global agricultural employment, whereas in some countries it rises to 78 percent. More than half of the developing countries’ food is grown by women. Thus, their knowledge and skills are vitally compulsory for the food production and sustainable agriculture. Despite of reality that women produce a larger share of food in the developing world, in various rural societies, as well as in Pakistan, women having more illiteracy and get lesser training’s than men. Status of women in rural areas is totally neglected and faced major constraints in which health is on the top. Across the world women experience certain restraints in agriculture, but Pakistani women facing more complications because of unusual situations formed by social, cultural, legal, political, or financial factors applied to gender discrimination. Rural women of Pakistan are mostly illiterate and they have to rely on informal, traditional and out dated education and experience in agricultural activities. Natural environment is changing due to climate change which is bringing unexpected situations in the form of floods, disturb cropping patterns, and temperature variations; but women farmers coupled with illiteracy are unable to foresee these weather fluctuations. So that, any unexpected change badly affects their work which ultimately create hardships and financial constraints for them and national economy. With the passage of time women has been into great complex and more demanding life style shaped by enhanced rate of male’s migrations to urban areas for the sake of livelihood. Rural women are affected by this trend and increased their responsibilities, particularly in agricultural activities. As the socio-cultural set up of Pakistan presents a rough picture and labor force are not rightly treated on capacity and productivity basis, it is call for action to devise women centric capacity building programs and provide latest knowledge related to crop production and other associated activities. In order to provide level-playing field to women in agricultural sector, initiatives should be taken by policy makers, which must provide an integrated system to support women in all agriculture and allied sectors.

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