HISTORIC: Women will finally be allowed to participate in ‘Water Resource Management’ decisions in Sindh

Rana Ansar, a provincial legislator from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, proposed a bill for women’s participation in the provincial water governance structures three years ago.

According to recent reports, the Sindh Water Management (Amendment) Bill, 2018, has been passed by the Sindh Assembly. The bill was passed on the 12th of January 2021.

Ansar announced:

The landmark legislation will allow close to 92,000 women to become part of the water resource management in Sindh.

Speaking to a media outlet, Ansar stated:

The bill would empower women because it will give legal cover to the women’s 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 Explained

The Sindh Water Management (Amendment) Act 2005 came before the new 2018 Amendment. According to Mustafa Hasan, Executive Director, Management and Development Foundation (MDF), the 2005 Act only allowed landowners to be part of the water governance structures. Therefore, it did not protect the water rights of:

  • Landless farmers
  • Peasants
  • Tenants
  • Women
  • Minority groups

Hasan further stated:

The land ownership in Sindh was overwhelmingly male, with only two percent of landowners in the province being female.

According to Hasan, the amendment bill will pave the way for landless women farmers and farm laborers to have a significant role in the water resource management and the irrigation systems across the province. He added: 

The landless and peasant women farmers will become active members of water governance bodies.

Following this, Ansar said that the amendment bill lists mandatory inclusion of at least two women each as part of the:

  • The watercourse association
  • The farmer organization
  • The area water board
  • The Board of Governance of the Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority.

Reports state that under the law, the WCA has to be formed on each watercourse; the legislator estimates that there are 46,000 watercourses. Regarding this, Ansar said:

If 46,000 WCAs are in Sindh, then 92,000 women will become the part of WCAs All Sindh province. In addition, the women will also become a mandatory part of FO, AWB, and BoG in the province.

The provincial legislator further pointed out:

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. This is a historic achievement.

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