The hidden economic backbone: women in agriculture

The hidden economic backbone: women in agriculture

This paper uses data from the recently-completed Women's Work and Nutrition Survey (WWN) in rural areas of Sindh, Pakistan to provide fresh insights into women's work in general and their agricultural work in particular. The WWN is a unique sample survey in Pakistan which combines detailed information on women‟s work history and time use with data on their own health and the health of their young children.

The authors argue that despite efforts on the part of national data collection organisations, flagship surveys such as the Labour Force Survey continue to undercount women‟s contribution to the economy. This undercounting is not unique to Pakistan, however, and is seen as an important concern globally in the context of the realisation that agriculture is undergoing a process of feminisation. Fresh approaches are needed for the proper enumeration and analysis of women's work – approaches which are based on a grounded theoretical understanding of existing social norms and narratives about work. Such approaches can yield significant new insights into the type of work women do and the possible drivers behind this work. They conclude with observations about the way forward with respect to data collection and analysis, and policy action. [adapted from authors]