Women's Land Rights Threatened by Damage from Pakistan Floods
By Khadim Dahot, Managing Director, Sewa DTS - update September 2011
Floods strike Pakistan again, one year later...
One year after devastating floods wreaked havoc on Pakistan, another one struck in August, leaving tens of thousands affected, homes damaged and more than 80% of crops destroyed.
Sewa Development Trust Sindh (SDTS), with financial support from the Aurat Foundation (a women's organization in Pakistan), and USAID under the Gender Equity Program (GEP), has begun implementing our Women's Land Rights project in five districts of northern Sindh province.
Women at risk of being exploited over land ownership documents
The women, especially female-headed households, are the vulnerable groups; they face violence and gender discriminations at all levels.
It is important to inform these groups about their rights and get necessary support from the government agencies, as per priority.
In some cases, whole settlements are flattened by the flood, leaving no sign for defining the household plots and farming areas. Marking of the land for a particular owner/farmer has vanished due to flooding.
It is feared that most of the people lost their land/property documents, and it may be an opportunity for corrupt persons to exploit female-headed households through manipulation when they will approach them for land/property ownership documents.
Women Need a Supportive Environment
In view of the above, it seems necessary to build the capacity of the local grassroots organizations and local communities to cope with these issues.
The proposal is to provide necessary support to female-headed households and women owners of the land for their land titles, and networking with government line departments for their support.
To create an environment for women-headed households, land owners, and women at risk, so they can enjoy equal rights through mobilization, information and participation and activism of civil society organizations.
The targets groups are:
- Local grass root organizations
- Female headed households and women owners of the land.
The target number of beneficiaries are:
- Twenty local grass root organizations (40 members -20 male and 20 female)
- Fifty women received their land titles.
- Others (500 male 350 female and 460 children).
- Twenty grassroots level organization of five districts (Khairpur, Sukkur, Ghotki, Larkana and Qambar Shahdadkot) of northern Sindh have increased capacity, awareness, and knowledge towards gender-based violence and women's rights issues, and a mechanism for women to have access to quality services for property and land rights within nine months.
- Immediate support services (counseling and legal aid) ensured through district property and land rights working groups in five districts of northern Sindh province and 50 women received aid in reclaiming land titles.
- Increased public awareness on concepts and traditions of masculinity in order to facilitate better understanding the societal, biological, social, cultural, economic, and structural factors, and document and record cases of female-headed households and landowners in five districts of northern Sindh.
- Twenty grassroots organizations are trained and mobilized on women's rights and gender-based violence, and are involved in awareness raising and advocacy activities for women’s land rights.
- Immediate support services (counseling and legal aid) ensured through district property and land rights working group in five districts of northern Sindh and 50 women received land titles.
- Awareness has been created on gender-based violence through TOT (teaching of trainers) and awareness raising sessions.
- Document cases and statistics on the prevalence, root causes, patterns and trends in GBV and women land rights in northern Sindh province.