The perception that women, in general, work less than men is incorrect. Majority of women in rural areas accompany men in the farms and work there for up to 14 hours a day, University of Agriculture Faculty of Social Sciences Dean Prof Muhammad Iqbal Zafar said on Saturday.
He was speaking at a seminar, Gender Empowerment and Home Life Improvement, arranged jointly by the UAF and the Institute of Agricultural Extension and Rural Development.
Prof Zafar said with the majority of the country’s working population still working in the agriculture sector, there was no reason to believe that women’s share in the country’s development was less than that of men.
He said there could be no progress in the country without empowerment of the women.
UAF Vice Chancellor Prof Iqrar Ahmad Khan said the university would soon undertake impact assessment studies to analyse the outcomes of its women empowerment projects.
He urged the staff associated with these projects to expedite work and to ensure that women of the participating families were benefiting from the initiatives.
The vice chancellor said the university intended to work in cooperation with non-governmental organisations working for women empowerment. He said the UAF faculty could help these NGOs in their capacity building, skill development and outreach programmes. The UAF was already working on several joint projects with the Australian government overseas aid programme (AusAid), the United States Agency for International Development, the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) and the Punjab government.
He said achaar (pickles) making was one of the cottage industries in the country employing a large number of women. He said the UAF was currently working on a project involving women employed in the sector in Azad Jammu and Kashmir region. The vice chancellor urged the Institute of Agriculture Extension and Rural Development to identify and launch more community participation and skill development projects.
Earlier, Institute of Agriculture Extension and Rural Development Director Dr Tanvir Ali spoke about various pro-women initiatives and degree programmes and short courses started by the university particularly for the women. He said at least 186 students were enrolled at the Laboratory Girls High School run by the university. As many as 787 women from Chaks 260, 263, 265, 266, and 273-RB were equipped with marketable skills through short-courses in beauty parlour management, poultry farming, goat farming, livestock management, stitching, cooking, computer science, first aid and preservation of harvested food.
He said 135 women were recently hired by the university as permanent faculty and training sessions arranged for women employees at the a Health Centre, a Women Complex, summer schools and evening camps at the university.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2012.