Pakistan Institute of Development Economics



How Do Women Decide to Work in Pakistan?

The incidence of women labour force participation is very low in Pakistan. According to the Labour Force Survey, 1999-2000 female participation rate was merely 14 percent of the total labour force. Even though average annual growth rate of female labour force participation has been increasing slightly in Pakistan; it was 4 percent in 1980-99 and has gone up to 5.1 percent during 1995-98,1 however, this rate is still very low as compared to the other South Asian countries—42 percent in Bangladesh, 41 percent in Nepal, 32 percent in India and Bhutan, 37 percent in Sri Lanka [World Bank (2002)]. This paper is an attempt to identify household related factors that lead to women participation in the economic activities. This issue has been taken up in a number of other studies.2 The innovative aspect of this paper is that it relates women’s decision to participate in economic activities with their empowerment—who makes the decision to participate in the labour force—whether it is the women themselves or others. We would like to state at the very onset that this paper is a first cut to explore the issues of women’s participation in economic activities and their and empowerment. We hope to get feedback in the conference to improve the technical aspects of this paper and explore other aspects of this issue.

Lubna Shahnaz, Zareen F. Naqvi