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Photo credit: Unicef Pakistan

Prays for the virus to go away
“My name is Nitesh Kumar. I am a Grade 4 student at the Nationalized Muslim School. My school is located in Maheshwari Para district in Umerkot city. I believe that schools are a place of learning, a safe atmosphere where children can connect and have fun. Now, when we are all restricted to our homes and unable to see our friends and study together at classes, I feel frustrated and sad. It's not easy to stay away from school as I enjoy studying and attending school.. I have heard from my parents about coronavirus. They tell me it is spreading from person to person very rapidly around the world. We have also seen on the Television how this virus is particularly harmful for children like me and the elderly. To prevent this disease from spreading, we wash our hands a lot of times a day. My mother has also asked my siblings and I to stay indoors and not play outside. My family has seven members, and I am the eldest. My father worked as a labourer and earned a daily wage. He does not work very often now as there is little work nowadays. We received PKR 12,000 under the Ehsaas Program with which my father purchased essential food items and feed for our farm annimals. The food will last us for a couple of months. I miss going outside to play with my friends. I also miss attending Mathematics class as I enjoy solving tricky math equations assigned to us by our teacher. We have not even met or seen our relatives and cousins in many days due to the limitations on public transport imposed during the lockdown in Umerkot. We do not go out much anywhere anymore. I was looking forward to my aunt’s wedding which was planned to take place in my summer holidays. I was excited to meet my cousins and enjoy the wedding festivities. The wedding has now been postponed as the preparations for the wedding were not complete due to closure of shops.I am sad to hear that. Since we are at home the whole day, we play different games such as playing with marbles or ludo to keep ourselves entertained. It is difficult to spend time at home with no homework and limited activities. I pray for this virus to end so that I can meet my friends and relatives and enjoy like I use to with them.”

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to engulf more cities and rural communities, all and any kind of travel and movement between cities and external borders has been halted in Pakistan. Before the travel restrictions were imposed, Community World Service Asia’s (CWSA) team working on a Food Security and Disaster Risk Reduction(DRR) project supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan, conducted awareness-raising sessions on preventive measures against COVID-19 with the communities that they work with. With the imposed lockdown, those activities had to be stopped as well.

As an alternate way to continue raising awareness and minimize the threat of the virus further spreading our teams decided to engage Village Committees[1] (VC) in the mobilization processes. CWSA project staff teams conducted online sessions over mobile telephones with members of Community Based Organisations(CBOs) and Disaster Risk Reduction Committees, both community-based structures established by the project to ensure community ownership and engagement, of eight villages in Umerkot. The sessions aimed at enhancing knowledge of community members on the COVID-19 disease, its signs and symptoms and precautionary measures to be taken. Through these sessions, selected community members were trained and were asked to replicate the same trainings within their communities.

We received soaps from the  Chairman of the Union Council, which we distributed door to door in Surto Oad village. We also informed the people in the village on frequent hand washing to maintain cleanliness at homes and the surrounding environment. We were told to maintain social distancing and avoid participation in social gatherings to reduce the chances of being infected,

 shared Shiva Ram President and DRR Committee Member in Surto Oad village of Umerkot.

To share our learning ahead, we are mobilizing people to avoid unnecessary movement during the lockdown situation. With the help and guidance of the CWSA’s team, we have identified an isolated place where any suspect of the coronavirus will be quarantined. These isolation rooms have been identified and set up in various villages where awareness sessions have been conducted. The villagers have converted their Otaqs, which are drawing rooms or guest rooms located at a distance from family homes in rural household settings, into isolation rooms. All community members been made aware of signs and symptoms of coronavirus and are advised to immediately shift suspected people to the isolated place identified in the village. We have also updated our DRR plan with the emergency contact details of government and other line departments to be used in case of suspected patients or emergency,

added Shiva.

The online sessions not only focused on sharing practical information on COVID-19 but also sensitized communities on building societies grounded in solidarity, equity, and care for one another. Motan, a DRR committee member from Haji Chenasar village in Umerkot said,

Farmers are busy hoeing and harvesting Okra crop. While working in the fields, all farmers wear masks or take over a cloth to cover their mouth and maintain six feet distance. Our earnings have decreased as a result of the lockdown as work opportunities are limited. There is limited aid from the government and civil society organizations. We are being offered to work in agricultural fields but at very low wages. If the situation is prolonged and markets do not open, the food security and livelihood situation will become challenging for us.

In order to minimize the spread of the virus, I wash my hands with soap at least 10 times a day and also teach the same to my children and other children of the village. We wear masks whenever we step outside our homes and cover our mouth when sneezing or coughing. My family and I are not going out or visiting our relatives now. We only go outside when we need to purchase food or household items. When a guest arrives at our place, we ensure social distancing and sit six feet away from each other,

shared Hurmi, who is a member of the Village Committee in Haji Chensar Mari village.

Some Village Committees’ members in Umerkot are forced to discontinue their jobs and stay at home until the situation is contained. Social distancing and home isolation are effective measures to control the spread of the virus but is simultaneously having adverse impacts on women and children in terms of gender-based violence (GBV), child-abuse and increased manual labour.

In Pakistan, figures on GBV are expected to rise as the poorest of communities are continuing to lose their livelihoods and income. Women are categorized as the more vulnerable in the current crisis and need to be at the forefront in all awareness-raising, mental and physical health activities associated with COVID-19 response. To ensure their inclusion and to address the risks associated with the pandemic for women, twenty-four sessions on gender implications of COVID-19 and best practices on minimizing these risks were conducted among rural communities (both men and women) in Umerkot in the month of April.

Establishing and strengthening village committees in target villages has proven to be effective in terms of awareness and knowledge building on COVID-19 among communities. This would not have been possible without the communities showing keen interest and being proactive in learning, practicing and sharing the information to reduce the risks of the virus spreading in their homeland.

While rural communities are struggling to make ends meet and to ensure a means of food security for their families, the pandemic is indiscriminately impacting both rural and urban communities in terms of businesses closing down and unemployment rising rapidly. It is expected that between 12.3 million and 18.5 million people in various sectors may lose their jobs in Pakistan. In Punjab province alone, at least half a million textile and garment-industry workers have lost their jobs[2].


[1] A body of like-minded people representing households in a certain locality for to help in improving the localities in terms of progress and awareness building on different matters. These community groups have been established by CWSA through its projects to ensure community participation and ownership of programs.

[2] Pakistan Workers’ Federation (since March 28th)

Empty streets outside Rukhsana’s home in Umerkot.

Rukhsana Yasmeen is a primary school teacher based in Umerkot city of Sindh Province in Pakistan. She teaches at the Government Boys Primary School, Police Thana, and is a participant of the Education and Teachers Training project implemented by Community World Service Asia (CWSA) and supported by PWS&D and Act for Peace. Rukhsana worries about her students who are all forced to stay home amid the COVID-19 pandemic and shares her own personal thoughts of her experiences in lockdown so far.

The lockdown imposed by the government to control the spread of the coronavirus is having a drastic impact on the education of children here in Umerkot. They will forget all that was taught to them. Schools not only serve the purpose of providing education, but also gives children a chance to interact socially and keeps them energized and fresh. With this shutdown situation, children are frustrated and baffled. It is difficult to say whether the students will be able to perform well in the final examinations to be held in June.

Rukhsana and her family of 5 have confined themselves to home. She has three children including two daughters and a son.

At home, we try to maintain a sufficient distance between each other. However, living in a small, two-room house makes it challenging to avoid complete contact. The practicality of social distancing at home is difficult.

The economic situation in Umerkot is tense and most businesses have come to a standstill. Daily wage laborers are most at risk of poverty and food insecurity as their incomes have completely stalled. Before the crisis, their most basic expenses were met on a day to day basis, but now their daily needs are unmet.

Sitting at home without any money or very little money leads to anxiety and results in many conflicts among family members at home. This adds to the stress and uncertainty that looms over all these families that are completely homebound and affects the children at home too.

Rukhsana’s husband also worked as a daily-wage laborer. Due to the lock down, he is unable to go out of the house to find work.

I am worried about managing our monthly expenses, such as house rent, food and other household essentials with only my salary. I am not sure for how long my salary will be able to sustain our family. Our future seems uncertain

Rukhsana also recently found out that the Government of Sindh has deducted five percent of all government employee salaries as contribution to the COVID-19 relief funds. Rukhsana also falls in that category of government workers and has further strained their financial conditions.

Keeping her own children entertained and engaged in their studies at home has also been quite a challenge for Rukhsana.

There are very few entertainment resources at home. They do study for a while but cannot be engaged in school work the whole day. All their outdoor activities have been put to an end so there is no way for them to vent out their energy.

At the precautionary end, we are try to wash hands from time to time and use clean kitchen utensils when cooking and eating. Moreover, we are not drinking cold water nor taking a bath daily but instead bathe on alternative days. We ensure cleanliness at home as it the only way of keeping us safe at home from this pandemic.

We are happy to see how efficiently our government is working to control the spread of this infectious disease. All shops, malls and other public places have been shutdown to avoid social gatherings. Never did we think that we will experience such a stressful situation in our lifetime. Nonetheless, we have faith that we will overcome this positively and safely.

The Lady Health Worker and Community Mobilizer conducting a session on COVID-19 and sensitizing community to reduce the spread of the virus in Umerkot.

Community World Service Asia’s (CWSA) Health and Livelihood program teams initiated awareness sessions on prevention and safety from Coronaviruses 19 for the communities that they work with in the region. These sessions were planned and conducted in coordination with local government health departments, community Health Management and Village Health committees

Citing the COVID-19 pandemic around the world, the health teams are raising awareness as part of a larger effort to drive social change and prevent the further spread of the virus in the countries. The health sessions on coronavirus focused on limiting movement, avoiding small or large gatherings and maintaining hygiene and good sanitation. The teams ensured to use informational educational material translated in local languages and delivered the sessions, in local languages too. Communities were thoroughly sensitized on the signs and symptoms of the COVID – 19 and the precautionary measures to be taken individually and as communities.

Children, woman and families were particularly advised on the safest and most thorough ways of washing hands with soap and use of alcohol-based washes and sanitizers and the need to wear masks and staying home and away from all public contact and travel.

A total of thirty-two awareness sessions with staff, health workers and communities have been conducted by CWSA’s program teams so far.

Community World Service Asia (CWSA) is providing Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) services, under its Health program, in collaboration with the district health department at two Taluka Hospitals (THQs) in Umerkot and one Mother Neonatal Child Health Centre in Sujawal district. The MNCH caters to thirty surrounding villages in the two districts.

CWSA implements long-term health programs for vulnerable and marginalized communities in the region. The projects under this program operate through static health units within the provincial health structures, Preventive and curative health services, vaccination campaigns, mother and child health, and health education are some of the key components of these projects.

In most remote areas of Pakistan, cultural barriers prevent women from seeking medical treatment from male nurses and doctors and as a result prolong their illnesses or leave themselves undiagnosed. The health centers set up by CWSA are equipped with women medical staff to ensure that women and girls in the communities have equal and easy access to health services.

These rural health centers employ women medical staff that provide vaccinations, pre and postnatal care, education and awareness on sexual reproductive health and family planning, and delivery services to women and young girls in the villages.

Since January 2020, the health team has organized and facilitated eleven awareness sessions on polio eradication, HIV/AIDS, Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI), hepatitis, family planning, antenatal and postnatal check-ups, breast-feeding benefits and healthy nutrition for pregnant women in the catchment areas of both THQs, namely Samaro and Pithoro. In addition, the health team participated in a ‘Family Mela’ organized by the Population Welfare Department in Umerkot.  Through the awareness activities, communities, Health Management Committees, local schools and children were sensitized on the major causes of epidemic diseases and their signs and symptoms and precautionary measures. Information, Education and Communication (IEC) material was also distributed and displayed among communities on related topics during the sessions. Baby kits were also distributed for the mothers of newborns and pregnant women. Whereas, Hygiene Kits were distributed among school children and wheel-chairs among disable persons in the community.

Moreover, the health teams collaborated and supported a government lead polio vaccination program in Yousaf Bhatti village to help them mobilize communities and convince them to take the vaccinations as many local communities were against the campaigns. The medical staff sensitized the community members on severe effects of polio and how it could lead to permanent disabilities, with vaccination being the best prevention. The community was convinced and agreed for their children to get vaccinated.

Rural communities facing poverty, food insecurity, malnutrition, and inaccessibility to basic services, often put health-care as their last priority. Community World Service Asia is committed to helping such communities access their health rights, find sustainable solutions and reduce disaster risks as they survive and find ways to earn livelihoods.

 Most families in Anwar Pathan live in a joint family system. Early marriages and living in a big family bring along a lot of responsibilities for new and young brides in this community. The new bride is expected to take on all the home chores, go to the field and harvest the seasonal crops in addition to taking care of all the family members living in the house. A tremendous amount of burden is put on the little shoulders of a child bride. This naturally deteriorates her health. As you see, there are very few or almost no woman here who is overweight. This is because all women here work a lot and are weak due to the many burdens they bear since a very young age. If these women or girls complain even a little, it results in conflicts among family members,

shared a young man, named Gom Chand, who is a member of the Steering Committeeⁱ and Community Group set up in Anwar Pathan village, located in Umerkot district of Sindh province.

Gom Chand and his wife were only 14 years old when they got married. Four years on, now 18 years old, Gom Chand teaches at a local private school in Anwar Pathan.

Women in this village are not educated as most have not attended school and those who did get the opportunity, have only studied up till class 5. Even as a boy, I was forced to marry at a young age and had to leave my education, with no one encouraging me to continue studying. Instead, I was told to earn a living as I had to bring home money for my wife and bear family responsibilities. Soon after my wedding, I began work as a daily labourer, and earned a mere income of PKR 200 a day.

For many centuries, it has been a cultural norm to wed off young couples aged between 12 and 16 years in villages such as Anwar Pathan. Just as a child would be born, their families would start searching for a perfect matrimonial match for them and in many cases even engage them at birth and as soon as they would turn 12 years or reach their teens, they would be married off.

I never supported this idea though,

shared Gom Chand,

And as it turned out, I also suffered a lot by being married so young.

We are a family of six members, including my parents, wife and siblings. My relative, Chander, told me about the EVCⁱⁱ project as the team visited for an orientation meeting at the village. He shared the main objective of the project which was eliminating and discouraging the practice of early and childhood marriages. This convinced me to join the Steering Committee. I saw this as a platform to share my experiences and motivate the youth to gain education and build a bright future for themselves.

Fifteen of us, seven men and eight women, joined the Steering Committee of Anwar Pathan. As members of the committee, we largely work towards achieving for four key objectives. Firstly, we will build awareness on the importance and access to health care for men, women and children. We encourage women and children to avail proper healthcare treatments from the nearest health facility instead of always adopting traditional home remedies. Secondly, we discourage the practice of early childhood marriages. Thirdly, we are advocating for increasing girls’ education in the village.   Since this is not encouraged much in our village, we are conducting meetings with parents who do not send their girls to school and are urging them to educate their daughters and sisters as it is equally important as is educating boys. Lastly, we are promoting the role of women in decision-making.

Gom Chand watched a theater play in Bharo Mil village which highlighted the disadvantages of early childhood marriage and encouraged communities to educate their children instead. The play exhibited how societies would flourish if their people and youth were well educated. Upon his return from Bharo Mil, Gom Chand felt the need of opening up a school for girls in his village. And he did as he had planned and did inaugurate a school in Anwar Pathan in March 2019. Gom Chand teaches at this school and earns a monthly income of PKR 14000.

There was no school in our village so no girl in our village ever went. With the help of a friend working in another welfare organization, I registered the school and encouraged parents to specially send their daughters and sisters to the school. Today, 45 girls and 12 boys are enrolled in this school and attend classes every day.

There are 10 pairs of Community Groups established in each village, each pair consisting of a man and a woman. Every one of these pairs is assigned five households to work with and build awareness on the same objectives as the Steering Committee. Gom Chand and his Shama, another resident of Anwar Pathan village, make up one these pairs.

The training that was organized on Gender and Women Empowerment on November 2018, and a refresher course that followed a year later in 2019,  delivered sufficient information on the fundamental rights of women and the importance of education, especially for girls. We understood how the existing gender issues in our community adversely affected the lives of.

 Gom Chand and Shama held meetings with the five households allotted to them and encouraged women in those families to voice out their concerns and participate in decision-making processes.

Gom Chand’s brother, Prem Chand, was to be married at the end of 2019.

When I heard about the wedding preparations, I could not hold myself back from standing against this decision and lifelong tradition. He was just a 16-year-old boy and his bride to be was only 15-years-old. My father did not want to go forward with the wedding either but due to the pressure from my brother’s in-laws to be, my family decided to go with it. Shama and I visited the in-laws’ and tried to convince them on postponing the wedding. After hearing about my early marriage experience and the challenges my wife and I faced, the bride’s family postponed the wedding for three years.

In terms of contributing to women empowerment, Gom Chand encouraged his wife to further enhance her embroidery skills by enrolling her at a nearby vocational center. A District Engagement Group member, named Shanti, helped him identify this center and facilitated them with the enrolment process.

A skill building training was held in Mirpurkhas to which I accompanied my wife, Pooja, every day for fifteen days as it is difficult to commute alone in this area. After successfully completing the training, Pooja received five sewing machines.

I am very proud of my wife as she teaches embroidery and stitching skills to other girls and women from our village at our home now. Fourteen woman and girls come to learn the use of different threads, design methods and colors. For running this home-based coaching center and working on orders, Pooja receives PKR 4000 monthly from PCDPⁱⁱⁱ. The attendees of the centre pay a monthly fee of PKR 100. I can see the happiness in the eyes of my wife as this initiative has brought new meaning to her life.

Hina, 16 years, and Seeta, 15 years old, are two of Pooja’s students at the center.

Miss Pooja teaches us stitching and embroidery. We come to the center for four hours daily. If it wasn’t for this center, we would be doing home chores the whole day. This is a fun activity and us friends get to sit together, share jokes and learn new skills of designing and stitching,

 shared Hina.

A video screening, highlighting the goals of the Steering Committee and its role in promoting positive change in the communities by reducing early childhood marriage and motivating women towards decision-making, was organized on December 18th, 2019 in Anwar Pathan, by the Steering committee members.

The members of the committee invited the Chairman of the Union Council as a special guest at the screening. It was an honor to welcome a higher official in our village. The community members were excited to see the video as these visuals are appealing and conveyed the message very clearly. More than 250 people attended the video screening. It was a very proud moment for us.


ⁱ 22 Steering committees are formed in each village, comprising of 15 representatives with equal representation of male and female participants. The steering committee works on different issues of the village and supervises the Community Groups. They represent grass root level issues with civil society and local authorities at district level and work towards resolutions in collaboration with the EVC Team. The committees were formed in the month of August 2018.

ⁱⁱ   Every Voice Counts – Community World Service Asia’s project

ⁱⁱⁱ Parkari Community Development Program

Seventy-three-year old Kasi, from village Ranahar of Umerkot district, takes care and provides for her bed-ridden son and his family. She works for agricultural produce on their local fields.

While sharing her challenges and talking about her sufferings of recent years, Kasi could not help but reminisce about their better days,

Just a few years ago we were leading a very happy life. My son earned PKR. 15,000 per month as a tractor driver. His monthly income was sufficient to meet our family’s needs. However, those days were short-lived as our happiness turned to sorrow when my husband started experiencing frequent chest pains and fever and had to leave his job. Soon after, just four years from today, he was diagnosed with asthma and severe lung illness which could lead to chest cancer within years if not treated properly. With his job gone and barely any income, we could not afford his medication which further aggravated his illness.

Kasi added,

Our worries further heightened when our agricultural fields completely dried up. The drought had struck our lands.  I was not even able to collect a single grain from our field in the last two years.  Only my God knows my struggle and how I was trying to feed my family since the last two years. Not even our neighbours or relatives were able to help us.

On March 2019 Kasi and her family were selected as participants of a drought response project implemented by Community World Service Asia and supported by Presbyterian World Service & Development and Canadian Foodgrains Bank. Through the project, Kasi’s family, along with ninety more severely drought-affected families in Ranahar village of Umerkot received six rounds of food packages.

Before receiving this food assistance, I used to start worrying about what we would eat each day at the first light of dawn. Having even a single nutritional meal seemed to be a challenge each day. But thankfully, I do not need to worry about that anymore. The food provided to us has saved us from many sufferings. The quality and quantity of food provided is much appreciated by all of us.

Kasi is happy that her family and other families affected by drought in the area will be assisted with food supplies for the next six months. This support will be sufficient to feed the families until their own agricultural produce can be harvested in September.

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For a zero hunger world, people around the globe should eat healthy diets, the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has said in a booklet that is released ahead of World Food Day on October 16.

The goal of the UN-mandated Sustainable Development Goals of meeting ‘zero hunger’, according to the document, can be met by eating more seasonal fruits and vegetables and reducing the consumption of junk food. Over 820 million people — approximately one in nine people around the world — were hungry, and malnutrition affected one in every three people, the FAO noted.

To share the learning, Community World Service Asia organized a session in the village of Padmoo Bheel Union Council Khararo Charan, District Umerkot on October 16. Fifteen men and women from the community participated in the activity. The session focused on the theme which said “Our Actions Are Our Future. Healthy Diets for a #ZeroHunger World”. As a result of globalization, urbanization and income growth, our diets and eating habits have changed. The event generated awareness who suffer from hunger and increased knowledge for food security and nutritious diet intakes for all. Communities were sensitized on ensuring food security in households and how to avoid wasting food at home, marriage ceremonies and other communal gatherings.

Community Voices:

The session was very informative in terms of learning how to avoid food wastage and eat healthy food items for better health. New learning for me was food being our fundamental and basic right.

Janat from Padmoo Bheel village, Umerkot

It is important to make food as per the needs and number of people. Excess food often is wasted which is not good. The session shed light on how food is made excessively in communal gatherings and is wasted in large number. We will in the future make the food according to the need and number of people.

Ranjeet from Padmoo Bheel village, Umerkotet

Pribhat theater group performing a play on the role of rural women in climate resilience.

Community World Service Asia, in collaboration with the Social Welfare Department and District Engagement Group[1] (DEG) Umerkot, celebrated the International Day of Rural Women 2019 to pay tribute to the rural women who are playing a vital role in the development of their communities. More than three hundred people attended the event.  Participants of the celebratory event included representatives from the district administration, police force, local government, the Population Welfare Department, Women Development Department, civil society organizations, teachers, artisans and the rural women of the district.

At the event, rural women were awarded appreciation shields for their proactive role in promoting socio-economic and cultural development in their communities. A local theater group, named Pirbhat, performed a play that conveyed messages on the role of rural women in societal development and climate change awareness as part of one of the event. The play was emotional in nature and gave a strong message. As part of the event format, participating human rights defenders, specialists and relevant government representatives gave inspirational speeches and acknowledged the contribution of women in socio-economic development, food security and rural development. Stall was set which displayed handcrafted apparel and home accessories produced by rural artisans.

Contributions and Challenges of Rural Women

The crucial role that women and girls play in ensuring the sustainability of rural households and communities and their overall contribution towards improving rural livelihoods and community wellbeing has lately been increasingly recognized. Women account for a substantial proportion of the agricultural labor force, including informal work, and perform the bulk of unpaid care and domestic work within families and households in rural areas. They make significant contributions to agricultural production, food security and nutrition, land and natural resource management, and building climate resilience.

Structural barriers and discriminatory social norms continue to constrain women’s decision-making power and political participation in rural households and communities. Women and girls in rural areas lack equal access to productive resources and assets, public services such as education and health care, and infrastructure, including water and sanitation, while much of their labor remains invisible and unpaid, even as their workloads become increasingly heavy due to the emigration of men. Globally, with few exceptions, every gender and development indicator for which data are available reveals that rural women fare worse than rural men and urban women and that they disproportionately experience poverty, exclusion and the effects of climate change.

The impacts of climate change, including on access to productive and natural resources, amplify existing gender inequalities in rural areas. Climate change affects women’s and men’s assets and well-being differently in terms of agricultural production, food security, health, water and energy resources, climate-induced migration and conflict, and climate-related natural disasters.

Comments from Speakers

Rashida Saand, renowned women’s rights worker from Umerkot, commented during her speech,

We believe that rural women have unique ideas and indigenous solutions to solve the current challenges facing a society that must be heard by the government and decision-makers. To benefit from the wisdom of women, community organizations must amplify the voices of rural women and call for women’s inclusion in the decision-making process at all levels.

Tarique Waheed Baloch from Women Development Department said that, on the occasion of the International Day of Rural Women,

They shall be encouraged to struggle for their just right of education, social welfare, and their legitimate rights. Village girls should be encouraged to get an education and step ahead in the field. Rural women face, among other problems, under-age marriages, and domestic violence, while they also share in work with men in agriculture and livestock farming besides sewing and embroidery. The government should ensure that technical training programs for rural women in the field of vocational training be started to provide them with opportunities to earn better incomes and live a better life along with educating their children.

Muhammad Bux Kumbhar, DEG member, said the observance day recognizes,

The critical role and contribution of rural women in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty. As the world faces a critical need to act against climate change, this year’s theme highlights the important role that rural women and girls play in building resilience to face the climate crisis. Rural women represent the backbone of many communities, but they continue to face obstacles that prevent them from realizing their potential. The devastating impacts of climate change add to their hardship. Almost a third of women’s employment worldwide is in agriculture. Women cultivate land, collect food, water, and essential fuels, and sustain entire households, but lack equal access to land, finances, equipment, markets and decision-making power.

The guest of honor, Dr. Rubi Dharmdas from Umerkot, paid thanks and applauded Community World Service Asia, the Social Welfare Department Umerkot and District Engagement Groups for organizing such a great event to pay tribute to rural women. She added,

The contribution of the rural women is not being given due importance. Moreover, the right to basic facilities such as education and health are also overlooked. This is a great tradition initiated by Community World Service Asia to honor rural women by giving them due respect in terms of awards, as it will encourage many rural women to play a vital role in society.


[1] The District Engagement Group (DEG) comprises representatives from district-based CSOs, Steering Committees and Social Welfare Department responsible for networking and influencing relevant stakeholders and government departments on implementation of laws and policies related to women empowerment.

Health sessions were conducted where community members were provided with IEC material for better understanding to build a hygienic living environment.

Community World Service Asia (CWSA) provides basic health services with a focus on Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health Care (MNCH) under its Umerkot Health Project, supported by Act for Peace. The project is implemented in two Taluka Headquarter Hospitals (THQs) in district Umerkot, namely THQ Pithoro and THQ Samaro.

Free medical camps are set up, under the health project, to bring health care and health education to vulnerable populations who have no access to basic health care services or knowledge about diseases. The medical camps aim at providing free medical advice, medicine and referrals for specialized treatment if required. These camps make sure that people receive health care at the right time and see a doctor early enough before a small health problem turns serious.

The health team organized a free medical camp on September 24, 2019, in the village of Maryam Nagar, Taluka Pithoro, District Umerkot. This village is nine kilometers away from THQ Pithoro and lacks a regular transport facility in the area. Patients from more than four surrounding villages came to the camp for treatment; in total, 127 patients were treated, including 55 women and 7 men, 29 girls and 36 boys. Five antenatal care (ANC), three postnatal care (PNC), and six family planning patients were diagnosed and provided with medical services. The remaining 113 patients were treated through the outpatient department and provided with free medicine. Major diseases diagnosed and treated during the camp were anemia, scabies, musculoskeletal pain, diarrhea and ear and eye infections.

The Village Health Committee (comprised of both women and men) was involved in organizing the camp and facilitating the patients, while community mobilizers delivered health education sessions to women, men and children on food and nutrition as well as on the causes, symptoms and preventive measures for malaria and dengue fever. The community mobilizers also distributed Information, Education and Communication (IEC) material on related topics.

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