Hindu Dalit Woman Elected to Pakistan Senate


http://www.riazhaq.com/2018/03/hindu-dalit-woman-elected-to-pakistan.html

Krishna Kumari Kohli today made history by becoming the first-ever Hindu Dalit woman Senator in the upper house of Pakistan, according to media reports. Her election represents a major milestone for women and minority rights in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.


Pakistan Senator Krishna Kumari Kohli

Once a bonded laborer, the 39-year-old Kohli from rural Sindh was elected to a Senate seat reserved for minorities. She was nominated by the Pakistan Peoples Party.

Senator Krishan Kumari Kohli:

Kohli, was born in Nagarparkar village in the Thar desert regionto a poor Hindu Dalit peasant family in 1979. She and her family were held as bonded labor for at least three years in a jail run by a landlord when Kohli was a child. Married at the age of 16, Kohli still pursued a masters degree in sociology from the Sindh University. Kohli now works for minority rights, especially those related to girls’ education.

Thar Development:

Thar, one of the least developed regions of Pakistan, is seeing unprecedented development activity in energy and infrastructure projects. New roads, airports and buildings are being built along with coal mines and power plants as part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). There are construction workers and machinery visible everywhere in the desert. Among the key beneficiaries of this boom are Thari Hindu women who are being employed by Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) as part of the plan to employ locals. Highlighted in recent news reports are two Hindu women in particular: Kiran Sadhwani, an engineer and Gulaban, a truck driver.

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Kiran Sadhwani, a Thari Hindu Woman Engineer. Source: Express Tribune

Thar Population:

The region has a population of 1.6 million. Most of the residents are cattle herders. Majority of them are Hindus. The area is home to 7 million cows, goats, sheep and camel. It provides more than half of the milk, meat and leather requirement of the province. Many residents live in poverty. They are vulnerable to recurring droughts. About a quarter of them live where the coal mines are being developed, according to a report in The Wire.

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Hindu Woman Truck Driver in Thar, Pakistan. Source: Reuters

Some of them are now being employed in development projects. A recent report talked of an underground coal gasification pilot project near the town of Islamkot where “workers sourced from local communities rested their heads after long-hour shifts”.

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Hindu Woman Truck Driver in Thar, Pakistan. Source: Reuters

In the first phase, Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) is relocating 5 villages that are located in block II. SECMC is paying villagers for their homes and agricultural land.

SECMC’s chief executive officer, Shamsuddin Ahmed Shaikh, says his company “will construct model towns with all basic facilities including schools, healthcare, drinking water and filter plants and also allocate land for livestock grazing,” according to thethirdpole.net He says that the company is paying villagers above market prices for their land – Rs. 185,000 ($ 1,900) per acre.

Hindu Women Employment:

Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC), the largest contractor working in Thar desert coal project, has committed itself to hiring locals wherever possible.

When SECMC launched its Female Dump Truck Driver Program near the town of Islamkot in Thar, Kiran Sadhwani, a female engineer, visited several villages to motivate women to apply for the job and empower themselves, according to Express Tribune newspaper. “Not all women who are working as dumper drivers are poor or in dire need of money. It is just that they want to work and earn a living for themselves and improve the lives of their families,” she told the paper.

SEMC is hiring 30 women truck drivers for its Thar projects, according to Dawn newspaper.

Summary:

Krishna Kumari Kohli today made history by becoming the first-ever Hindu Dalit woman Senator in the upper house of Pakistan, according to media reports. Her election represents a major milestone for women and minority rights in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Beyond the symbolic election of Senator Kohli, it is good to see that Thar development boom is empowering Pakistani Hindu women with jobs in nontraditional occupations ranging from engineering to truck driving. These pioneering women will inspire and empower young girls to pursue their dreams in Pakistan and elsewhere in the world.

Related Links:

Haq’s Musings

Working Women Seeding a Silent Revolution in Pakistan

Thar Development Boom in Pakistan

Abundant, Cheap Coal Power for Pakistan

Fact-Checking Farahnaz Ispahani’s Claims on Pakistani Minorities

Pakistani Hindu Population Fastest Growing in the World

Recurring Droughts in Pakistan

Thar Drought: Pre-cursor to Dust Bowl in Pakistan?

Campaign of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt About CPEC

http://www.riazhaq.com/2018/03/hindu-dalit-woman-elected-to-pakistan.html

 



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