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Women’s Agricultural Work and Nutrition in Pakistan: Findings from Qualitative Research


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Haris Gazdar speaks about a new LANSA Working Paper that explores the trade-offs between work and care on the nutrition outcomes for children in Pakistan

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Women’s Agricultural Work and Nutrition in Pakistan: Findings from Qualitative Research

  1. 1. Women‟s Agricultural Work and Nutrition in Pakistan: Findings from Qualitative Research Balagamwala, Gazdar and Mallah (2015) Collective for Social Science Research
  2. 2. Under-5 Nutrition Indicators in Pakistan – National Nutrition Survey NNS 2001 NNS 2011 Stunting 42% 44% Wasting 14% 15% Underweight 32% 32%
  3. 3. Labour force statistics by sex – Labour Force Survey Year Labour Force Participation Rate % Labour Force Employed in Agriculture % Male Female Male Female 2001- 02 83 16 37 65 2012- 13 81 24 33 75
  4. 4. Pathways framework – Gillespie, Harris and Kadiyala (2012) • From agriculture (growth) to nutrition • Pathways 1-4 • Own food; private income; food prices; non-food consumption • Pathways 5-7 • Women‟s income; labour versus care time; women‟s own consumption and health • Feminization of agriculture
  5. 5. Care • “Care is the provision in the household and the community of time, attention and support to meet physical, mental and social needs of the growing child and other household members” (ICN 1992, cited in Engle et al 1999) • Pregnancy • Breastfeeding and complementary feeding • Food preparation • Hygiene • Health-seeking • Psychosocial • Not just time – time AND resources
  6. 6. Existing evidence • Mixed evidence from statistical analyses • Mother‟s care to nutrition status • Women‟s income and care expenditure • Labour demand and care time • Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey 2012-13 Mother’s occupation Stunted % Wasted % All 44 11 Not working 42 11 Agricultural work 52 13 Non- agricultural work 48 8
  7. 7. Beyond pathways - resources, choices & behaviour • Jointly determined outcomes of decision-making at the household level • Household well-being defined in terms of nutrition (health) outcomes (of children) • Income and care time jointly determined – extension of standard labour supply model • Consumption side: care needs time AND resources • Relax various assumptions • Household versus individual members objectives – do women care, do they care more? • Knowledge, norms and agency: constrain choices • Exogenous factors: growth, technology, interventions, services
  8. 8. Questions & empirical approach • Preliminary qualitative fieldwork objectives • Explore Pathways 5-7 and implications of above model (joint determination) • How men and women understand choices and trade-offs with respect to income and care • Gendered norms in work and care – implications • Labour arrangements, technologies, interventions, and their implications, particularly in seeing change
  9. 9. Site selection for qualitative fieldwork • Mainstream canal-irrigated areas with two-crop annual cycle • Cotton-wheat, rice-wheat, sugarcane, fodder • Shahdadpur and Badin in Sindh, further work in Punjab • Unequal land ownership – landlessness, some large land holdings • Self-cultivation, share-cropping, farm labour, non-farm employment • Social structures dominated by kinship group-based communities and hierarchies; religious minority • Prevalence of various „fragility‟ related issues • Different levels of physical and social infrastructure • Road access, health facilities, LHWs, cash transfer programme • Technological change, intervention and shock • New seed varieties, land grants programme, flood
  10. 10. Gendered work & economic agency • Work • Men‟s work: land preparation, water management, fertilizer/pesticide application • Women‟s work: cotton harvesting, vegetable picking, fodder (mostly women) • Mixed work: other harvesting, transplanting, weeding • Economic agency • Remuneration: grain, cash, household or individual • Resources: land - men, livestock-can be individual • Market access: mostly men, women‟s limited autonomous interaction with markets • Importance of acknowledgement
  11. 11. Cotton harvesting • Seen exclusively as women‟s work • „Rivayat‟, „aib‟, exceptions underline rule • Differences between regions in strength of norm • July to November • 4-6 rounds of picking, 8-12 day interval, 8am to 5pm • Shahdadpur: cotton region • Widespread: various labour arrangements, including „jamadar‟ contractor • Choice: work or not, if work then full day, all season, little choice for sharecropper families • Badin: mixed region with some cotton • Less demand for labour, more flexible arrangements • Income • Upto 25,000 rupees in a season • Different levels of agency • Choice and agency • Correlated with class, caste • Constraint („majboori‟), earning opportunity, and something extra („shauq‟) • Lifeline, extra consumption, savings
  12. 12. Care • Economic and ecological factors • Women‟s health: exposure • Pregnant women • High fertility rates, indications of decline, mixed • Availability and utilisation of antenatal services • Work during pregnancy and after birth • Special treatment triggers • Breastfeeding and complementary feeding • General behaviour, norms, resources • Working women‟s constraints: distance, exhaustion, temperature • Proactive versus reactive care • Differences across sites, and changes over time
  13. 13. Implications for nutrition • Evidence of trade-off between income and care • Whose trade-off? Acknowledgement of women‟s economic contribution • Time allocation main factor • Key issue: gendered division of work AND care, limited evidence of change in response to household economic constraints/opportunity • Terms of the trade-off vary • Land ownership, tenure, region, prior understanding of care- nutrition relationship • Importance of norms, changes in these or at least in knowledge of norms • Fertility, work during pregnancy and after birth, breastfeeding • Differences between communities with/without exposure to health services • Implications for intermediate inputs • Not clear how final nutritional outcomes impacted – likely to be dominated by other economic and ecological factors – but useful to focus on intermediate inputs
  14. 14. Conclusions and way forward • Qualitative fieldwork supports, embellishes outlined model • Severity of trade-off between work and care time allocations depends on norms, socioeconomic status, nature of labour demand • Women‟s work in agriculture can be empowering and pro- nutrition through acknowledgement • Norms around care change through health interventions, but also interaction among women • Key question: how can women‟s choices in the income-care trade-off with respect to agricultural work be made more pro- nutrition? • Implications of agricultural growth • Intersectoral strategies • Social protection systems • Health-nutrition programmes • Asset transfer programmes • Focus on intermediate inputs as well as nutrition outcomes