HYDERABAD: Women’s participation in cotton, rice and vegetables picking job in Sindh and Punjab provinces jointly accounted more than one-third of women’s annual agricultural activities. Pakistan’s textile export sector and textile and clothing (T&C) industry rest largely on women’s shoulders. Women cotton pickers, under scorching heat, work in the cotton fields of southern region of Punjab and Sindh to harvest raw material for T&C production.But women agri workers remained poor and exploited as their wages were extremely low and they have weak bargaining power besides their health suffers from hazardous working environment involving excessive use of poisonous pesticides. They are not protected by labour laws and qualify for minimum wages being announced by federal government every year.According to an estimated data, more than half a million women work in cotton picking for four to five months in a year in Sindh. Sanghar, Ghotki, and Matiari are the major cotton producing districts in Sindh province. Sanghar is Sindh’s largest cotton-producing district. Pakistan is a country that ranks eighth in the world in terms of farm output. In terms of cotton production, Pakistan occupies fourth slot.Sindh has an edge over Punjab in terms of higher per-acre yields. The Sanghar, Ghotki, Matiari, Tando Allahyar, Mirurkhas, Khairpur Mirs and others are cotton producing of Sindh and according to estimation more than half million cotton pickers are women in Sindh. Most of these women are illiterate and belong to poor rural families with little capacity for bargaining, lack of networking with other women cotton pickers and little awareness about human rights organisations in case of violation and exploitation of their rights.Unfortunately, stakeholders including cotton growers, industrialists, government, as well as public at large remain unaware relating to their plight. Women cotton pickers earn much lesser amount from of Rs 250 to Rs 300 for 40 kilogramme of cotton picking.However Javed Hussain, representative of Sindh Community Foundation claimed that his Foundation has organised training for 30 groups of women cotton pickers and trained more than 3,000 women cotton pickers in Matairi district on negotiation.We started work to organise these cotton picking women in 30 villages of Matairi now and created awareness on wage calculation literacy, rights awareness and trend of market rates in at ginning factories for cotton so they negotiate more wage and increase per kg rtaes.There is no any law to protect wages to informal agriculture labour in province, Hussain added.Sadori, a 38 years cotton picker in village Jamal Dahri, some 2 km away from Super Highway near Hala new said that land owners some times create social pressure to reduce wage but after having organised groups they were remain on one page for fixing wage.Published in Daily Times, October 17th 2017.