January 19th, 2021
By Rehan Piracha
A landmark legislation will allow close to 92,000 women to become part of the water resource management in Sindh, according to Rana Ansar, a provincial legislator from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement who has proposed a bill for women participation in water governance structures in the province three years ago.
The Sindh Assembly passed the Sindh Water Management (Amendment) Bill, 2018, on January 12, 2021.
Speaking to Voicepk.net, Ansar said the bill would empower women because it will give legal cover to the women representation in various water governance structures comprising the Watercourse Association (WCA), Farmer Organization (FO), Area Water Board (AWB) and the Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority Board of Governance (BoG).
Mandatory inclusion of women
The earlier legislation, the Sindh Water Management (Amendment) Act 2005, only allowed landowners to be part of the water governance structures but did not protect water rights of landless farmers, peasants, tenants, women and minority groups, according to Mustafa Hasan, Executive Director, Management and Development Foundation (MDF), which has been raising the issue on a variety of forums.
He said land ownership in Sindh was overwhelmingly male with only two percent of landowners in the province are female.
Hasan said the amendment bill will pave the way for landless women farmers and farm labourers to have a significant role in water resource management and the irrigation systems across the province, adding that landless and peasant women farmers will become active members of water governance bodies.
Ansar said the amendment bill lists mandatory inclusion of at least two women each as part of the watercourse association, farmer organization, area water board and the Board of Governance of the Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority.
According to the legislator’s estimates, there are 46,000 watercourses and, on each watercourse the WCA has to be formed under the law. “If 46,000 WCAs are in Sindh then 92,000 women will become the part of WCAs all
Sindh province,” she said. In addition, the women will also become a mandatory part of FO, AWB and BoG in the province.
“This is a historic achievement because the WCAs, FOs, AWB etc. will become ineffective and lead towards disqualification if at least two women are not part of the water governance structure, Ansar pointed out.