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Women to have greater role in water management with bill amendment

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Women have no visible role in water resource management and the irrigation system in Sindh said Sindh MPA Rana Ansar during a consultative dialogue on Sindh Water Management Ordinance Amendment (ACT) 2018 on Tuesday.

The dialogue was held in Karachi and was organised by Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO), in Collaboration with Commission on Status of Women in Sindh (CSWS).

Ansar said that this must be addressed in the SWMO amendment so that women are encouraged to identify issues pertaining to the province’s water needs and make required decisions.

Sindh MPA Sharmila Farooqi, who was also present at the gathering, said that the Sindh government supports the amendments and recognised it as an opportunity for women farmers to have better inclusion.

She said the bill will recognise the integral role of women and agreed it is important to include them in the structure of SWMO.

Farooqi congratulated Ansar who had proposed the amendment to the bill.

Regional Coordinator SPO Pirbhu Satyani shared that in 2017, SPO conducted policy gap analysis of Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority (SIDA) Act 1997 and Sindh Water Management Ordinance (SWMO) 2002 where it was found that women are not part of any structure such as farmer organisation, water course associations or area water boards despite the direct involvement of women in agriculture and water management at local level.

He said that the proposed amendments in SWMO will include women in water governance and ensure their say in decision making bodies. He said the purpose of this consultative workshop is to brief policy legislators and get their support in the passing of amendments from Sindh Assembly.

Chairman of Sindh Commission on the Status of Women Nuzhat Sherin said that all parliamentarians of Sindh support the bill, and all parties are lobbying to pass it. “Women should participate more in every field. There isn’t any representation of women in SWMO,” she lamented.

SIDA Training Coordinator Masroor Ahmed Shahwani described the amendments in SWMO with a detailed presentation. He said that women play a big role, from sowing seeds to harvesting crops, but there isn’t any participation of women in water resource management.

SIDA Chairman Abdul Basit Soomro said: “We advocate the rights of women, and SIDA wishes to penetrate the conventional irrigation system, and encourage farmers’ participation in its structure. There is no specific percentage of women, but we want their inclusion in the irrigation system.”

Soomro said people on the peripheries of southern Sindh face water crises, particularly women suffer a lot, and therefore we encourage the role of women in water management and would extend every possible support to carry this bill to assembly.

Other participants of the consultative dialogue included MPA PTI Adeeba Hassan, Adviser to CM Sindh on Human Rights Veerji Kolhi, civil society activist Raheema Panhwar, GM Irrigation Department Sindh Jai Ram, civil society members and media personnel.

All MPAs from PPP, PTI and MQM gave their consent and supported the bill, and it was jointly agreed to pass it from Sindh Assembly.

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