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Punjab Schoolgirls Get Chicken Duty

by AFP
A. Majeed—AFP

A. Majeed—AFP

Official says pilot program will target girls over boys because they are ‘more responsible and caring,’ deal with ‘kitchen.’

Schoolgirls in Punjab province will be given poultry to care for in an initiative partly aimed at teaching them about the kitchen, officials said, raising the eyebrows of women’s activists.

Punjab officials said the government would initially provide girls in 1,000 primary schools with four hens, one cock, and a cage.

Naseem Sadiq, head of the Punjab government’s livestock department, told AFP the aim was to promote poultry and educate about nutrition, citing World Bank figures showing Pakistan ranks among the top countries in the world for protein deficiency. He also said the program would “train these small girls about kitchen waste” as they feed their charges leftover food from lunch.

“We preferred girls’ schools for this project to boys because girls, mostly, have to deal with the kitchen and they are more responsible and caring than boys,” Sadiq said.

Women in Pakistan have fought for their rights for decades, in a country where so-called “honor killings” and other violence against women remains commonplace.

Women’s rights activist Farzana Bari criticized the project this week for reinforcing stereotypes by telling girls their role is “limited to the kitchen only.”

“It would be very good if the government focused on boys’ schools more to create … responsibility and equality,” she said. “The government should give [women] new confidence, not make them a typical woman by putting in their minds that they are for the kitchen only. By starting such projects in boys’ schools they would also learn about what to do in a kitchen and helping women,” she said.

The program is due to begin next month, Sadiq said.

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