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EPD is happy to announce that it has commenced cooperation with the Aurat Foundation to implement the EU-funded programme INSPIRED+ Pakistan. Together, the Aurat Foundation and EPD will conduct a policy dialogue on socio-economic and labour rights of women working in agriculture in Punjab province. The project will thereby contribute to the effective implementation of core human rights and labour rights conventions in Pakistan, in particular the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and most of the ILO’s core conventions.

The signing of the contract on 1 September 2017 follows an EPD mission to Lahore that was conducted by Leon Hemkemeyer, EPD Programme Officer, in August 2017. The mission served to familiarise the Aurat Foundation’s project staff with the INSPIRED methodology, to hold first meetings with prospective stakeholders for policy dialogue, and to discuss alignments of project activities with the political context in Punjab province.

As is the case in most of Pakistan, women play a large role in agricultural production and post-harvest operations in Punjab province. In addition to household activities, they perform most of the work that comes with cotton picking, wheat harvesting, rice transplanting, fruit and vegetable production and livestock by-products. However, agricultural labour is not recognised by law and there are few guarantees in place to protect the rights of agriculture workers. As a result, agricultural women experience economic marginalisation on top of the social discrimination that women face more generally in many parts of Pakistan. Through the multi-stakeholder policy dialogue of INSPIRED+ Pakistan, the project will therefore work to set the agenda for policies in Punjab that effectively address socio-economic and labour rights of women working in agriculture.

The Aurat Foundation is a national outreach-based women’s rights organisation with a countrywide presence and over 30 years of experience in creating, facilitating and strengthening civil society groups and networks for promoting trust and collaboration among citizens to mobilise public pressure for women’s empowerment in the country. EPD – in a consortium with the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty  Democracy (NIMD) and the Club de Madrid – will further support the Aurat Foundation to host the policy dialogue through training, expertise and institutional support.

The first phase of the project, the Collective Assessment phase, has been launched in September 2017. This phase will serve to gather all relevant stakeholders to identify their opinions, to specify the topic and to achieve a shared vision of the problems in the respective policy area. It will also serve as a baseline from where the inclusive dialogue process will depart (in the second phase).

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