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Gender Inequality & Climate Change Exacerbate Food Insecurity for Women in Pakistan's Agri Sector: Study

Gender inequality and the impact of climate change have significantly contributed to food insecurity among women in Pakistan's agricultural sector.

Shivam Dwivedi
Gender Inequality & Climate Change Exacerbate Food Insecurity for Women in Pakistan's Agri Sector: Study (Photo Source: Pixabay)
Gender Inequality & Climate Change Exacerbate Food Insecurity for Women in Pakistan's Agri Sector: Study (Photo Source: Pixabay)

Women play a vital role in Pakistan's agricultural sector, but gender-based inequalities continue to hinder their progress. A recent report by 'The Nation' highlights the challenges faced by women in accessing land ownership, inputs, extension services, and financial resources.

According to a study conducted by the International Food Policy Research Institute, climate change is projected to have a devastating impact on Pakistan's agricultural yields. By 2050, the country could experience a decline of up to 40 percent, further exacerbating food insecurity for women, as highlighted in the report by Sania Arif.

The agricultural sector in Pakistan contributes 18.9 percent to the country's GDP and employs 42.3 percent of the labor force, including a significant number of women. Rural regions, where approximately half of Pakistan's population resides, rely heavily on agriculture for their livelihoods. Key crops produced include wheat, cotton, sugarcane, rice, mangoes, and dates.

Despite the sector's importance, Pakistan faces a significant food crisis due to a rapidly increasing population and inadequate food productivity. According to the Global Hunger Index, Pakistan currently ranks 92nd out of 116 nations in terms of food security.

A recent report by IPCINFO revealed that districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and Sindh are experiencing high levels of food insecurity, malnutrition, and poverty. The situation was further exacerbated by the devastating floods in 2022, which submerged one-third of Pakistan's territory, causing 1,700 casualties and impacting around 33 million people. The country requires USD 16 billion for recovery, with an estimated 17 million women and children at risk of preventable diseases.

The stories of women affected by the floods highlight the extent of the crisis. Asmat Jaskani, a farm worker, shared her struggle after the floods destroyed her wheat fields, resulting in a halved income. With a family of 30 to support, they have no savings from the harvest, leading to concerns about food availability. Sakeena Gadhi, another farm worker from Sindh, explained how the flood washed away their homes, leaving nothing behind.

The looming threat of climate change suggests that Pakistan must act urgently to address food insecurity. Recognizing women's informal labour is identified as one of the key solutions to mitigate the issue, as emphasized by Sania Arif in The Nation's report.

Experts argue that without acknowledging the pivotal role and plight of women in the agricultural sector, the Pakistani government will struggle to effectively address this serious issue. The establishment of a recognized, independent, and government-supported policy model for women in agriculture is essential to tackle food insecurity in the country.

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