Can social protection programmes lead to greater economic agency for women in agriculture?

Even though women in rural areas in Pakistan take part in a wide range of agricultural activities, the work they do, often arduous and labour-intensive, is not recognised as their individual contribution to the household economy.

There exist strong gendered norms around the kinds of work that can be considered paid work for women in agriculture and except for some - such as cotton harvesting and livestock rearing-income from most kinds of work are attributed to the household as a whole.  This, we found, while researching linkages between women's work in agriculture and the nutrition outcomesIt is important because we found a clear connection between the recognition or even acknowledgement of women’s economic contribution and their ability to make pro-nutrition consumption decisions.

Interestingly, income from the national cash transfer programme (Benazir Income Support Programme or BISP) of which beneficiaries are women in poor households, was seen across the board as the woman’s own. If the design of social protection programmes can enhance the visibility of women as autonomous economic agents they may even lead to greater recognition of women’s work in agriculture. 

This is one of the questions we hope to address in our research on mitigating the negative and leveraging the positive impacts of women’s agricultural work on nutrition.

Amna Akhtar
Friday, October 16, 2015

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South Asia Focus

Funded by UK DFID

This research has been funded by the UK Government’s Department for International Development; however the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK Government’s official policies

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