Sindh cabinet approves ‘historic’ bill recognising women farm workers’ contribution

Updated August 25, 2019

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The Sindh cabinet on Saturday approved the Sindh Women Agriculture Act 2019 aimed at empowering the women of the rural swathes of the province. — Reuters/File
The Sindh cabinet on Saturday approved the Sindh Women Agriculture Act 2019 aimed at empowering the women of the rural swathes of the province. — Reuters/File

KARACHI: The Sindh cabinet on Saturday approved the Sindh Women Agriculture Act 2019 aimed at empowering the women of the rural swathes of the province.

“Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has called the drafting and approval by the cabinet of the Sindh Women Agriculture Workers Act 2019 a historic moment,” Information Minister Saeed Ghani said while briefing reporters about meeting of the Sindh cabinet presided over by the CM.

During the meeting, the chief minister said the cabinet approved the bill in accordance with the vision of the chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party to provide social security to women agriculture workers.

Minister Ghani said the chief minister was of the view that although their role was not being recognised appropriately, rural women were central to Sindh’s predominantly agro-based economy.

The minister said the act would be presented before the provincial assembly within a week.

After the passage of this act, rights of women agriculture workers would be safeguarded, he said, adding that the act provided that those affiliated with cultivation, fisheries, poultry and animal husbandry would be considered agriculture workers, who would enjoy rights equal to workers in industries etc.

“The law would also permit these workers to seek assistance from the endowment fund of the Benazir Income Support Programme.”

Also okays bill to address alarming malnutrition in the province

A woman worker shall receive a written contract of employment if she so demands. The new law also gives the right to woman workers of collective bargaining, social welfare, including child health, community development, economic profit and for accessing publicly supplied goods and services.

Minister Ghani said the cabinet also discussed formation of the Benazir Women Support Organisation under the labour department with an endowment fund to provide technical and financial assistance to women workers.

To simplify the process of purchasing essential medicines for the health facilities in Sindh, the cabinet formed a committee comprising the ministers for excise and taxation, and agriculture, and the adviser to chief minister on law. He said medicines available with the health ministry would immediately be provided to the healthcare facilities across the province.

Medical college staff regularisation

The cabinet also approved regularisation of staff and faculty members of the Khairpur Medical College keeping in view their qualification and age limit.

The minister said the cabinet decided to give the charge of the executive director of the Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Trauma Centre to a grade 20 medical officer. He said now the management board of the teaching hospital would function under the vice chancellor of the medical university concerned, who would preside over meetings of the board.

No flood emergency

He said the meeting was briefed that at present there was no flood emergency in Sindh and the situation was in total control.

The water flow at Guddu Barrage upstream was recorded at 274,000 cusecs against a discharge of 241,000 cusecs.

The meeting was told that all right-bank and left-bank dykes were being carefully looked after and spurs had been constructed at the old Tori dyke.

The cabinet approved the formation of a 14-member governing body of the Sindh Employees’ Social Security Institution.

Minimum wage board

Minister Ghani said the cabinet approved the establishment of the Sindh Minimum Wage Board.

The cabinet decided to form an advisory council for empowerment of disabled persons. Minister for special education would head the council.

He said the meeting approved the formation of an Information and Technology Board. The minister said an IT Advisory Committee would also be formed.

The chief minister formed a committee comprising the ministers for excise and taxation and mines and minerals, the adviser to the CM on law, and the secretary for finance and general administration for the establishment of an information and technology board.

Food fortification bill

He said the cabinet showed serious concern over the alarming malnutrition in the province and approved the Sindh Food Fortification Bill 2019.

Half of the women and children are far below the acceptable levels of nutrition. Iron, folic acid, iodine, zinc, vitamins A and B are major micronutrient deficiencies. The poor nutrition in childhood has profound effects on immunity, growth and cognitive development.

The cabinet was told that food fortification pertained to the addition of key vitamins and minerals, for example iron, folic acid, zinc, vitamin B-12, iodine, vitamin A and D staple foods to prevent nutritional deficiencies.

The minister added that the cabinet agreed to exemption of registration and stamp duty for Dawat-i-Hadya — a charity being run by the Bohra community.

The minister said the cabinet formed a committee comprising the ministers for forest and mines and minerals, and the adviser to CM on climate change to present a draft of sustainable forest policy in 15 days.

The cabinet also formed a committee to look into the use of water for irrigation by the Sindh Engro Coal Mines comprising the ministers for irrigation and energy and the adviser to CM on climate change. The committee would present its recommendations in the next cabinet meeting.

The cabinet approved the Sindh Safe City Authority Bill 2019 as the authority would be headed by an officer from the police department.

The provincial cabinet established a cabinet committee on legislation comprising the minister for parliamentary affairs and the adviser to CM on law.

He said the committee would look into matters pertaining to private bills.

Karachi’s issues

Answering a question, Mr Ghani said the Sindh local government minister had briefed the Federal Minister Ali Zaidi in a letter on the Clean Karachi drive.

He said garbage of the city could be dumped at designated landfills only. Parks, grounds and other open spaces were not meant for it.

Answering another question, he said those “conspiring” against the PPP, which ruled Sindh, should learn from the recent results of a by-election in Ghotki.

He said the money submitted in the apex court by the management of Bahria Town belonged to the Sindh government and not the federal government.

Mr Ghani said the federal government, as it had promised earlier, should pay 50 per cent of the total cost for the S-III and K-IV projects.

Besides, he demanded 1,200 cusecs of water be immediately made available exclusively for Karachi.

Published in Dawn, August 25th, 2019