Women’s Traditional Knowledge and Sustainable Development in Rural Sialkot, Pakistan
Sustainable development has become a global imperative in recent times that needs to be taken seriously more than ever before. While it is globally acknowledged that sustainable development is indispensible to holistic global development, inadequate attention has been paid to alternative modes of achieving sustainability, examples of which exist in traditional knowledge systems of many rural and indigenous communities. This research tries to explore the intricate link between traditional knowledge studies and sustainable development, with a particular focus on the environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects of human welfare. This is done by placing the concepts of ‘traditional knowledge’ and ‘sustainable development’ in the wider development framework, and by analysing their theoretical and practical underpinnings at the global and local level. Drawing upon a research carried out in Pakistan, the study adds to an existing body of literature that confirms that traditional knowledges of rural women are a valuable resource, which can constructively contribute to sustainable development objectives. The evidence is collected from four villages in rural Sialkot, where elderly women were interviewed about their knowledge systems and changing social roles in the context of local socioeconomic and environmental change. A major finding of the study is that local women’s traditional knowledge, which has for long provided the foundation for sustainable living, is being displaced as globalisation invades rural life. This is indirectly resulting in a loss of sustainable livelihoods and local biodiversity. The problem is aggravated by the low value that is attached to indigenous know-how and practice at the community, and national and international level. The thesis concludes that women’s indigenous knowledge needs to be recognised and mainstreamed in important development strategies in Pakistan for a more inclusive development.