Institut für Ernährungswirtschaft und Verbrauchslehre

Role of Gender in Income Diversification in Pakistan

Gender is socially assigned roles and behaviors attributed to men and women. In all cultures, gender determines power and resources for males and females. Women constitute more than half of the rural labor force and are responsible for most of the household food production in low-income food-deficit countries. Rural development cannot be achieved through efforts that ignore or exclude more than half of the rural population – women. 

Gender analysis is important because productivity and efficiency are enhanced when interventions are targeted towards the actual users. In developing countries, the agricultural sector plays a central role in providing employment opportunities. This sector, however, has been contending with a number of factors: the small size of landholdings, insufficient capital and investment incentives, the inadequate farm infrastructure, limited markets, and stagnant prices of agricultural products. All of these have contributed to restricting the capacity for job creation in the agriculture sector. It is therefore necessary to focus on a broader spectrum of the rural economy, not just on agriculture. Pakistan's population was officially estimated at 161.66 millions in 2008-09, comprising 57.14 millions in urban area and 104.73 millions in rural area. Women labor force is 10.96 millions. More than 70 percent population lives in rural areas. 

The increasing landlessness of small farmers and population growth in rural Pakistan has largely pushed the rural labor force out of agriculture into other productivity activities in the non-farm sector. Predominantly a patriarchal society exists in Pakistan. About 91.9 percent of the Pakistani households are headed by men.  However, women headship has also been gaining some ground, perhaps, more due to migration of men than any significant sociocultural/attitudinal shift. Several academic studies have documented the linkages between agrarian change and gender relations, very few have studied the relationship of rural women and household livelihood strategies but did not give any conclusion. The contribution of women to the national economy of many third world countries has largely been ignored in economic calculus. Their economic contribution to household, farm/off farm, community, nation is always undervalued and quite often overlooked altogether. 

The purpose of this study will be to fill this gap and to make contribution to scarce empirical literature by examining the role of gender in income diversification in rural area of Pakistan. In the present study comparison of the income earning activities of male-headed and female-headed rural households of Pakistan will be made. The study will be based on cross sectional data of Punjab province of Pakistan. Propensity Score Matching (PSM) method will be used to find the causal effects of participation of women in nonfarm activities on the household’s income, welfare and poverty status.


Laufzeit: 01.10.2009
Projektleitung: Prof. Dr. Awudu Abdulai
Bearbeitung: Rakhshanda Kousar, MSc.