Rural Women Day: Female flood survivors need to be equipped with life- saving skills
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International Day of Rural Women is celebrated on 15 October every year, and this day is dedicated to the millions of women who live in remote, rural areas. It is to celebrate and highlight their achievements and contributions towards rural development and agriculture.
The theme for International Day of Rural Women 2022 is "Rural Women, key for a world free from hunger and poverty."
Women in Pakistan’s rural areas have been living in horrific conditions for many decades. Recent unprecedented rains in Pakistan have caused widespread flooding and devastation. Millions including women, children and elderly have become shelterless, living in poverty and misery. They have lost their crop, cattle and livelihood and there is a real threat of starvation, malnutrition and spread of disease.
The Government of Pakistan estimates that around 33 million people across the country are affected, including an estimated 8.2 million women of reproductive age.
Many women and girls are at an increased risk of gender-based violence (GBV) as almost 1 million houses have been damaged.
This calamity has badly hit the poor population in the affected areas and its consequences are drastically impacting the women who are already at a low ebb. women in flood-affected areas are suffering from mental and physical stresses, they are also more liable to violence and abuse as a result of the flood crises.
Due to joblessness, house destruction, starvation and uncertainty, gender-based violence is likely to increase as men would resort to violent ways to vent their frustration, similar to how cases of domestic violence and gender-based violence greatly increased in number during Covid-19 lockdown.
Female flood survivors need protection, food, medical facilities, guidance about how to lead a healthy life, need awareness on how to raise voice for their rights, and need to be equipped with life-saving skills.
A few days ago, The Legal Aid Society (LAS), the National Commission for Human Rights and the Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy (SOC) Films organized an important meeting to discuss the rights of women to property and related issues. LAS Executive Director Haya Emaan Zahid, while talking about the rights of women to property, also made the women facing the current flood situation in the country the focus of her conversation. She said that the burden of responsibilities on the flood-affected women has increased.
"Owing to different reasons, they cannot leave their homes. They must stay where they are. The United Nations Population Fund has informed that almost 650,000 pregnant women in flood-affected areas in Pakistan. Women need to be equipped with life-saving skills and effective policies are needed to be put in place to empower them," she opined.
Haya Zahid said that the recent floods may change their future. "We have to turn the climatic changes into opportunities, keeping in view the improvement of the women.