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Recognising Women Agricultural Workers: An Agenda for Reform

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Haris Gazdar's presentation at a session on Decent Work and Informal Economy for Women in Pakistan in the International Policy Conference: The Social Economy of Gender, hosted by the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) in Lahore on 28th November 2018. This session was chaired by Khawar Mumtaz who is currently the Chairperson on the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW).

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Recognising Women Agricultural Workers: An Agenda for Reform

  1. 1. 30 November 2018 Recognising Women Agricultural Workers: An Agenda for Reform Haris Gazdar
  2. 2. What is LANSA, and how we became interested in this issue • Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia – or how can agriculture lead to improvements in nutrition, given that • High proportion of workforce relies on agriculture for their livelihood • Agricultural change can lead to improved availability and access to an adequate diet • Pakistan Evidence Review – found important knowledge gap with respect to women’s work in agriculture and nutrition outcomes • Labour Force Survey gives different statistics • Some global evidence but none in Pakistan about linkages
  3. 3. Context of the study • Recognition of women’s work is a key concern of feminist politics and scholarship • Theoretical insight – distinction between productive and reproductive labour; enhancing visibility and accounting of women’s unpaid care work • But in many developing countries, women’s productive work too remains unacknowledged or without remuneration, often hidden behind expansive assumptions about reproductive labour • Policy context of study – Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA) • Feminisation of agriculture • Linkage between women’s (agricultural) work and their own health and the nutrition of their children © Collective for Social Science Research
  4. 4. Nutrition pathways - simplified Household SES Education Child nutrition Mothers’ health Food consumption Child care Positive Negative Not sure?
  5. 5. Women’s (agricultural) work - and gaps in evidence Household SES Education Child nutrition Mothers’ health Food consumption Child care Women’s work Positive Negative Not sure?
  6. 6. Women’s Work and Nutrition (WWN) Survey • Collaborative effort within LANSA between the Collective for Social Science Research and the Leverhulme Centre for Integrated Research on Agricultural and Health (LCIRAH) • How can we address the knowledge gap identified in the Pakistan Evidence Review • Preliminary qualitative research in rural communities in Punjab and Sindh • Uniquely designed sample survey conducted to high globally- accepted standards, particularly for anthropometrics
  7. 7. Sampling and data • Representative survey of irrigated rural areas of Sindh • Randomly drawn sample of villages across # districts, all births in reference period documented • Over 1,000 mother-child recruited in baseline • Unique features • Questions on women’s work based on prior qualitative research • Baseline and endline surveys with same cohort • Allowing analysis of stunting and growth over time • Precision • Rigorous probing of child’s date of birth • Anthropometric measurement training of high globally-recommended standards
  8. 8. Prevalence of Women’s Work • Three-quarters of the women surveyed reported having worked in the last year • Two-thirds of the women surveyed had done some agricultural work in this sector during the last year • A considerable proportion reported having undertaken non-agricultural tasks Type of work % ever worked % worked in the last year Any work 89 75 Agricultural work 81 67 Farming 67 46 Livestoc k 70 60 Source: Authors’ calculations based on the WWN survey © Collective for Social Science Research
  9. 9. Comparison with Other Data Sources © Collective for Social Science Research Type of work WWN PRHPS LFS Augmented LFS Standard Any work 75% 59% 60% 26% Agricultural work 67% 59% N/A 20% Farming 46% 45% N/A N/A Livestock 60% 44% N/A N/A Non-agricultural work 32% 0.5% N/A 2% 3 • The difference between the PRHPS and the WWN in the prevalence of women’s work is attributable to two sources • Livestock related activities • Non-agricultural work
  10. 10. Women’s Farm Work By tasks Tasks Ever (%) N=1048 In pregnancy (%) N=1048 After birth of child(%) N=1035 Picking cotton 51.2 28.6 36.9 Weeding/Digging 31.0 19.1 31.0 Harvesting grain (mainly wheat and rice) 39.8 14.4 31.2 Sowing/transplanting rice 22.4 11.4 10.6 Harvesting vegetables (chili/others) 17.4 8.0 16.0
  11. 11. Seasonal Farm Work By tasks and intensity of work N=1035 Wheat harvesting % Rice planting % Cotton picking % Rice harvesting % Chili harvesting % Women who worked during last season 27 10 36 13 11 Distribution of workers by number of full days worked in the season (per cent) 0 9.4 9.5 4.5 14.5 13.3 1-15 33.0 33.3 20.8 32.1 28.3 16-30 40.9 33.3 25.3 35.9 24.8 31-60 13.0 19.1 25.1 14.5 21.2 61-120 3.6 4.8 24.3 3.1 12.4
  12. 12. Who Worked, Never and Always? By Wealth and Mother’s Education Agricultural work Cotton picking Never (%) Both (%) Never (%) Both (%) N Overall 20.6 58.2 57.1 22.1 1029 Wealth Quintiles Poorest 5.3 76.7 33.9 41.8 189 Poor 14.9 68.2 47.2 30.3 195 Average 21.6 54.9 61.8 19.6 204 Rich 22.5 56.0 67.5 11.0 209 Richest 38.1 35.0 75.1 9.6 197 Mother’s Education No 15.4 64.2 52.8 25.3 825 Yes 41.7 33.8 74.5 8.8 204
  13. 13. Who Worked, Never and Always By Food Insecurity, HH characteristics Agriculture work Cotton picking Never (%) Both (%) Never (%) Both (%) N Overall 20.6 58.2 57.1 22.1 1029 Worry about not enough food in the house No 28.1 48.9 67.9 15.0 595 Yes 10.5 71.0 42.6 31.9 427 Vulnerable to sleeping hungry No 22.5 55.8 60.0 19.0 883 Yes 9.4 72.7 40.3 41.0 139 Children less than 3 years other than survey child Yes 18.8 59.6 56.2 21.5 559 Salaried HH No 16.7 63.1 52.5 25.3 830 Yes 36.7 37.7 76.4 8.5 199
  14. 14. Qualitative insights: Reasons for Working • Some of the main reasons why women work is to earn income, for food, and out of responsibility • Paid activities are undertaken for income or due to household need • Unpaid work such as livestock-related activities are done out of responsibility • In sewing/embroidery a significant number of women reported self-fulfilment as a reason for undertaking the activity © Collective for Social Science Research Activities/Reasons Grain harvesting Cotton picking Livestock- related Sewing / embroidery Not seen as a matter of deliberative choice 15% 10% 71% 6% Household need/income 84% 87% 27% 74% Self-fulfilment 2% 3% 1% 20% Total 100% 100% 100% 100%
  15. 15. Summary • Majority of women work during pregnancy and after child birth • Not always counting their work as work, or as choice • Women’s work – unpaid or underpaid • Digging, weeding, harvesting (grains, cotton, vegetables, chilis), livestock • Cotton (and chili) harvesting relatively less flexible • Livestock seen as chore rather that work • Main drivers • Household poverty • Lack of education • Food insecurity • Interconnected factors but with distinctive policy implications too
  16. 16. Drivers of work Household SES Education Child nutrition Mothers’ health Food consumption Care Women’s work Positive Negative Not sure?
  17. 17. Selected findings on nutrition • High burden of undernutrition among women (mothers) • Women’s BMI is associated with type of work – particularly intensive seasonal work like cotton-harvesting • Maternal BMI strong impact on child stunting • High proportion of children already stunted at baseline (aged 0.5-3 months), then further deterioration • Women’s work in agriculture is neither a cause of undernutriton, nor, necessarily a source of economic empowerment • Mediating role between poverty (particularly food insecurity but also more broadly defined) and poor public health and nutrition services, and nutrition • So, a qualified view at the LFPR!
  18. 18. Transformative agenda • Recognition – formal recognition in law, policy-making and programme design of women agricultural workers and the need to protect and promote their economic rights and wellbeing as workers • Registration – establishing systems for the registration of women agricultural workers, and the use of registration as an instrument for promoting and enforcing regulation and effecting the transfer of resources including income support, maternity and child care benefits, and asset transfers, and eventually mechanisms for social insurance • Regulation – active promotion of collective action by groups of registered workers in unions and associations around minimum, fair and equal wages, working conditions, child care provision • Resources – reallocation of existing support to the sector through the registry, from more privileged and political powerful stakeholders to workers

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