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Call for changing law to ensure women’s role in water resource management

Rana Ansar, an MPA of the Sindh Assembly, has said women have no visible role in water resource management and irrigation system in Sindh and their role must be ensured through amendments to the Sindh Water Management Ordinance (SWMO).

She said it on Tuesday at a consultative dialogue on the Sindh Water Management Ordinance Amendment (ACT) 2018 organised by the Strengthening Participatory Organisation, in collaboration with the Commission on Status of Women in Sindh (CSWS).

MPA Sharmila Farooqi said the Sindh government supports amendments to the SWMO, which would be an opportunity for women farmers to participate in the irrigation system and to recognise the integral role of women. She said they must be included in the structure of the SWMO, and these were very important amendments. She congratulated MPA Rana Ansar, who took up an amendment to the bill.

Pirbhu Satyani, regional coordinator of the SPO, shared that in 2017 his organisation conducted a policy gap analysis of the Sindh Irrigation Development Authority (SIDA) Act 1997 and the Sindh Water Management Ordinance 2002, where it was found that women were not part of any structure such as a farmer organisation, the Water Course Association or the Area Water Board despite the fact that women were directly involved in agriculture and water management at local level.

He said the proposed amendments in the Sindh Water Management Ordinance would include women in water governance and ensure their say in decision-making bodies. The purpose of the consultative workshop was to brief policy legislators and get their support for passing amendments from the Sindh Assembly, he added.

Nuzhat Sherin, chairman of the Sindh Commission on the Status of Women, Government of Sindh, said all members of the Sindh Assembly support the bill, and all parties are lobbying to get it passed. She said women should ensure their greater participation in every field.

There is no representation of women in the SWMO, and through this bill women can be part of water resource management, he said. Masroor Ahmed Shahwani, institutional specialist, described the amendments in the SWMO, and shared a presentation on demands, saying women play a big role from sowing seeds to harvest, but there is no participation of women in water resource management.

Abdul Basit Soomro, SIDA chairman, said that we have to advocate the rights of women and SIDA wished to penetrate the conventional irrigation system and encourages farmers’ participation in structure. There is no specific percentage of women, but we want their inclusion in the irrigation system, he said.

MPA Qasim Soomro said people of tail areas in Sindh faced a water crisis, and women particularly suffer a lot; therefore, we encourage the role of women to be included in water management, and would extend every possible support to carry this bill to the assembly.

On the occasion, Adeeba Hassan, MPA of the PTI, Veerji Kolhi, Adviser to CM on human rights, Raheema Panhwar, civil society activist, Jai Ram, GM irrigation department, other civil society members and media personnel participated in the consultative dialogue. All MPAs from the PPP, the PTI and the MQM gave their consents and supported the bill, and all parties agreed to support the bill and get it passed.

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