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Panel discussion Marks International Day of Rural Women 2019

18/10/2019

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations celebrated World Food Day on October 16. As part of the celebrations, FAO, in collaboration with the International Labour Organization and various other stakeholders, celebrated International Day of Rural Women on 18 October in Islamabad. Based on the theme ‘Rural Women and Girls Building Climate Resilience’, the unique gathering marked the first time that female beneficiaries of FAO projects travelled from North Waziristan to Islamabad, to attend a panel discussion on the role of rural women in agriculture. Members of National and Provincial Assemblies, Development Partners, Non-profit AOrganizations, and Government Representatives attended the event.

The panelists discussed the role of rural women in agricultural production, and how climate adaptation in agriculture can lead to improved access to production, as well as land and financial resources. Further, the panel members also exchanged views on the challenges of climate change and the role of rural women and girls in mitigating measures for rural development. The panelists included Ms. Minà Dowlatchahi, FAO Representative in Pakistan, Veeru Kohli, Human Rights Activist, Ms Sameena Nazir, president PODA, Mr. Massod ul Mulk, CEO Sarhad Rural Support Programme, Ms. Sajida Hanif and Ms. Ayesha Bano, Members of the Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Ms. Mehnaz Akbar Aziz, Member National Assembly, and Ms. Rabia Razzaq senior program officer International Labour Organization (ILO). The sessions ended with a discussion with women from the newly merged Tribal Districts, during which these women voiced their opinions on policies and programmes being implemented in their districts.

The Panel discussion also brought to light the impacts of climate change on poverty reduction and, in particular, on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in Pakistan; its impacts on health, food security, nutrition, production, and people’s earnings. Given their traditional role in agricultural production, and as the procurers of water, cooking fuel, and other household resources, women are not only well suited to finding solutions to prevent further degradation and adapting to the changing climate, but also have a vested interest in doing so.

Modelling of climate change scenarios for Pakistan shows that if agriculture and water management continues along a ‘business as usual’ pathway, increasing temperatures and changes in precipitation will pose serious threats to the livelihoods of farmers and to the Pakistani agricultural sector. This makes the role of Rural Women and Girls in building climate resilience more central and imperative. The panel also discussed that women and men both need to be educated towards the role of women when it comes to building resilience to climate change, as well as the need to vreate sustainable market linkages in order to improve agricultural productivity.

Mr. Shoaib Sultan Khan, Chairman Board of Director Rural Support Network Program delivered the keynote address to open the discussion. Delivering her closing remarks, FAO Representative in Pakistan Ms. Mina Dowlatchahi said: “Access to land, finance, and technology and its knowledge can help rural women become more resilient and contribute to the development of the agriculture sector in Pakistan.”