Published in Pakistan Today – Wednesday, 14 Dec 2011
Lahore – A campaign was launched by Shirkat Gah called “An Acre for Every Woman” on Wednesday. The idea behind this campaign is that if women are given adequate land not to own but to use for their lifetime they can grow enough for their families. “This area is estimated to be about one acre for each woman and one of the concepts behind Shirkat Gah’s Green Economics Initiative,” said Nimra Amjad-Archer, Environment Officer at Shirkat Gah and Founding Director at Pakistan Sustainability Network. Khawar Mumtaz, CEO Shirkat Gah introduced the aims of the Green Economics Initiative at Shirkat Gah. “The Green Economics Initiative focuses on globalisation, environment, agriculture, food sovereignty and livelihoods, especially from the women’s perspective,” she said. “It looks for answers towards equitable social and economic policies and their genuine implementation.” She said the launching programme had first been initiated in Karachi by the Green Economics Initiative with its focus on land-access for peasant women towards household food security and women’s farming entrepreneurship, as well as better micro-land use by urban women.
“It aims for solutions to various social, economic, political and legal obstacles coming in the way of its objectives,” she explained. Najma Sadeque, head of Green Economics Initiative, spoke about the need to bring back the concept of “commons” where the community could grow food for their own needs. She introduced the concepts of Matka Gardening, Seed Bombing, organic gardening and showed films on how to plant trees. The documentaries were prepared by independent environmental filmmaker Deneb Sumbul Sadeque, who captured the traditional way of planting trees as well as how to plant in pots, for those who lived in the cities. The campaign is not just targetted at women. In fact the idea is that women borrow or rent one acre for their families’ usage of growing food and then land given to their husbands or male relatives to grow food for commercial sale so that the family has enough for its own usage and also enough to sale.
“If the environment and agriculture are to survive and sustain people, tomorrow’s cities cannot afford to get more overcrowded than they are today. While rural areas are developed to include more urban comforts, people will have to green the cities and make them more productive, in which women, the original farmers, will once again be in the fore. The process has already begun in some parts of the world as we illustrated in film and photos.”