COMPARABLE WORTH IN PAKISTAN

SYED ALAMDAR ALI
Hailey College of Banking & Finance Lahore

Mar 24 - 30, 2008

Comparable worth means the Men on the same job as those of women are paid comparatively higher. The role of women in development is surrounded by a large amount of myth and misunderstanding. Significant changes have occurred in all sectors of the economy over the past 20 years, both in the role played by women and in the understanding of this role, but the continued absence of appropriate policy and programmed strategies means that women's contribution to agriculture remains invisible. This persistent failure to recognize and account for the value of women's knowledge, and to integrate the reality of women's situation into development theories, policies and programmes, is evident throughout the global economic development environment. Invisibility is one of the numerous obstacles preventing women from realizing their full potential. Many of these obstacles arise from the cultural and social constraints that perpetuate women's marginalized situation. Rather than remedying the situation through "adjustments", a fundamental shift which removes the veils of blindness is required.

The absence of quantitative and qualitative data on women's role in agricultural and rural development is the most notable - albeit hidden - factor. Terms to describe women's economic activity such as "non-remunerative work" or even "family responsibilities" have not been defined or given a value. Women's most fundamental role in society - procreation - is very often given a negative value, being seen as a hindrance to otherwise productive activities, a cause of lost income, lower productivity and increased costs. Neither is a value given to the emotional and social support women provide for the family and community, particularly with regard to child rearing. This absence of data - these unknown factors, or negative costs - is a significant omission in the data used to formulate strategies.

Keeping in view the disparity between rights and responsibilities of Men and Women in developing countries the Austrian Development Corporation developed following Matrix of Rights and obligations in a traditional household, for Africa that seems applicable to Pakistan as well.

HOUSEHOLD, FARMING OR ENTERPRISE ACTIVITY

Men: cash crops, large livestock

Women: child rearing and household maintenance (including food preparation, gathering water and

fuel), food and horticultural crops, small livestock, agro-processing and trading (home based)

FARMING TASKS

Men: clear land

Women: plant, weed, process and store agricultural products

SEPARATE FIELDS AND PLOTS:

Men and women: each responsible for own inputs and controlled outputs

JOINTLY MANAGED PLOTS:

Men and women: share labour input, use proceeds for family purposes

LAND RIGHTS:

Men: ownership

Women: insecure tenureship, determined by husband or male relatives

INPUT RIGHTS:

Men: right to resources such as land, labour, technical information and credit

Women: access to these resources determined by men

In a thesis titled "ROLE OF WOMEN IN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF PAKISTAN" written by Qamar Jehan submitted to the University Of Balochistan, the author demonstrated that women are an integral part of the economic process of the country; within and outside their homes, in the formal and informal sectors, in urban and rural areas on the following grounds:

Rural women are major contributors in four sub-sectors of the rural economy namely, crop production, livestock production, cottage industry, and household and family maintenance activities. The elderly and disabled women make up 76 percent of all part-time workers and only 25 percent of those are acknowledged as full-time workers.

An estimated two million women are part of the informal urban labour force as home-based workers (piece-rate workers, family business, self-employed entrepreneurs) and these working outside the house (in manufacturing, as construction workers, in domestic services, and as vendors).The informal sector is characterized by low levels of education and skills, lack of capital resources, lower incomes and high degree of segregation. Women, constrained by seclusion norms, lack of information about market forces and are dependent upon contractors and middle persons, are exploited and remain outside of protective legislation.

The participation of women in economic productive activities in rural and urban areas, both within and outside the house, is now an established fact. However, they face a variety of constraints, the major ones being seclusion and mobility, which prevent women's access to information, training skills, credit and opportunities. As a result women's work continues to be arduous and tedious and their potential productivity remains unrealized, concomitantly their quality of life is abysmally sub-standard.

Keeping in view the role played by the women in economic development and their present status in the society as well as in the economy the following are the recommendations in order to generate the income generation activities of the women:

* Integrate a gender-proactive approach and issues at all levels. Such an approach must be informed by a gender strategic plan, which includes a structure with budgetary allocations.

* Enhance the capacity of relevant institutions for lobbying, networking and advocating economic development for rural women.

* Encourage institutions in national agricultural systems to support women's access to economically productive resources such as land, water and financial services through supporting women's organizations and strengthening support services.

* Broaden its dissemination of information, particularly with regard to covering legal issues and through the use of appropriate and accessible media such as rural radio, specifically targeting women in agricultural and rural development.

* Enhance collaboration with NGOs and other key institutions in promoting gender mainstreaming in agricultural and rural development.

* Develop a databank of women's income-generating activities in agricultural and rural development at national and regional levels.