ISLAMABAD - Hundreds of rural women from across the country gathered at the first National Conference on World Rural Women Day on Wednesday to claim and achieve their rightful place in the society. The initiative was a joint collaboration of Potohar Organisation for Development Advocacy (PODA), Action Aid, CIDA, Lok Virsa and UNIFEM to mark the day. Panel discussions were held on various matters, including 'Economy, Food Security & Recognition of Women Farmers' Rights', 'Agricultural Education & Discrimination Against Rural Girls' Rights', 'Land Rights and Access to Justice for Rural Women and 'National and International Standards for the Rights of Rural Women and the Status of Implementation in Pakistan' Gender Advisor of United Nations Development Fund, Salman Asif speaking on the occasion said Pakistan features very low in gender development index, with a high Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) and the highest number of malnourished women, most of whom reside in rural areas. He revealed that in every 20 minutes a mother dies while giving birth to her child and women don't know about their reproductive rights. In addition to giving awareness and education to women, we need to engage men as partners and promoters of women's human rights. Rabbia Aslam, Researcher at PODA, while giving presentation on UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) said Pakistan acceded to the Convention on February 29, 1996.  "Pakistan is a signatory to CEDAW and is bound to act upon its Article 14, which focuses on rural women. The Article 14 mandates the country to take care of particular problems faced by rural women and to take all appropriate measures to ensure the application of the provisions of the Convention to women in rural areas".  The speakers said the rural women play a vital yet unrecognised role in Pakistan's economy. Rural women in most parts of Pakistan face multiple and complex economic, social, and cultural barriers in their access to basic human rights.   Most rural women in Pakistan are uneducated and considered unskilled or family farm helpers. Even though rural women conduct over 60 per cent of agricultural work in Pakistan they are not considered 'farmers' because farmer is the person who owns the land. This result in lower status of rural women in general and women farmers in particular who despite doing more work than men are not acknowledged. Women regretted that though most of the women are related to agriculture in rural areas still they are denied the right to agricultural education and only taught Home Economics. They demanded of the government that like boys they should also be given agricultural education by introducing a scheme of new curriculum. Since the UN General Assembly declared October 15 as World Rural Women Day in September 1995, some 57 countries of the world have been celebrating this day on national level. Pakistan is an exception where more than half of the population comprises women that live and work in rural set up, work on fields and in homes but their issues remain neglected and ignored.