RURAL women work 16 hours a day and are heavily burdened by their double roles as paid or unpaid workers and family care providers. About 70pc rural female labour force is engaged in farm production and related jobs.
Women are also responsible for performing household activities, looking after their family members, preparing food for them three times a day and fetching drinking water and fuel for cooking.
They are the least empowered segment of society and do not have professional/entrepreneurial ability to do agribusiness and avail themselves of earning opportunities. Gender norms dictate the role of women and their nature of work restricting their time and mobility for schooling, training and for economic activities that could empower them.
Rural females, with limited access to productive assets, are socially, physically, economically, politically and educationally deprived and need to be empowered in their own environment and within the ambit of local customs.
For sound and sustainable economic activities, “Agriculture and Livestock Rural Female Entrepreneurship” is, for now, the best option. As rural females are deeply involved in agriculture and livestock activities, they just need to shift from their paid and unpaid labour to entrepreneurship. For achieving this objective their professional/entrepreneurial capacity building becomes essential.
The writers of this article conducted a research study in eight districts of Sindh to assess the status and potential of rural females and tested best options for their empowerment. The study found that females of 89pc of rural households were involved in agriculture and livestock activities but no regular entrepreneurship extension services were available for them.
Over 86pc female respondents say they need entrepreneurship extension services for their capacity-building, value-addition and marketing of primary farm produce which can help them to start their own agri-business and earn direct income.
On the basis of survey results, a Female Entrepreneurship Centre (FEC) was established in village Hot Khan Laghari, District Mirpurkhas under the Australia-Pakistan Agriculture Sector Linkages Programme, Social Research Project executed by Sindh Agriculture University Tandojam and ACIAR-University of Canberra Australia.
In the FEC, separate product-based groups were formed for value-addition in mango, dairy, vegetable etc and fruit nursery for professional/entrepreneurship-based training after which they started sale of their products, and market linkages were also developed with the help of Social Research Project.
Along with that a Female Agriculture and Livestock Entrepreneurship Services (FALEES) Model was also developed and tested. Two females, who were actively participating in the FEC and Social Research Project, were trained and mobilised for providing extension services to other womwn.
They visited their own village households and neighbouring villages and conducted entrepreneur extension service sessions. This helped village females to initiate their own entrepreneurships.
Dr Mangan is Chairperson, Department of Agricultural Economics, Sindh Agriculture University, Tandojam
Mr Nangraj is Assistant Publicity Officer, Agriculture Extension, Sindh