Empowering Pakistani Rural Women: Implementing participatory action learning as social intervention in local farming communities of Sindh province

Project: Research-related funding

Project Details


Women are central to rural communities in Pakistan and are more likely than men to engage in agricultural activities as many seek to supplement their household and direct income. Many agricultural businesses remain unaware that out of the 43.2% agricultural labour force in Pakistan, women farmers account for almost 73%, surpassing men by more than a half of the total population. Despite their increased participation in the agricultural sector, women face persistent disadvantages due to cultural, social and structural inequalities excluding them from growth opportunities. A study suggests that rural women farmers are the least empowered occupational group despite their significant contribution to the uplift of agriculture sector in Pakistan. The absences of learning opportunities including professional development and lack of entrepreneurial opportunities underlines their poor socio-economic growth and are exacerbated by gender norms and stereotyping. Patriarchal social norms about a women’s role in the household, and gendered cultural taboos, represent a major challenge for Pakistani women as they can restrict their mobility and associated capacity to directly access to the market.

Key findings

Participatory action learning (PAL) has been used to achieve significant impact on community engagement and growth, tackling deep-seated social justice issues that are interwoven such as poverty and inequality. We anticipate that the data collected from PAL groups and their subsequent findings will result in the reviewing of existing government policies around enhancing women’s participation in the uplift of agricultural sector in Pakistan. This is particularly evident in the interest shown by the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority’s (SMEDA) initiative for women’s economic development in Pakistan. Similarly, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) will derive value from understanding the factors that limit women farmer’s participation in the agricultural value chain, a need highlighted in their report on Pakistani women in agriculture. This also feeds into the UN’s sustainable development goals for gender equality, poverty and economic growth. Impact on wider agricultural learning and social enterprise will be supported through a three-part strategy for disseminating the project’s findings: 1, Public engagement via seminars at the partner institution in Pakistan for key stakeholders and at the Future of Work Research centre University of Bath. 2. Presentation and discussion at the Action Learning conference in April 2020; and 3. We will run a series of blogposts for platforms with an international reach, such as Bath Business & Society and the Conversation.
Effective start/end date30/11/1931/12/20


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