Panelists: Dr. Ali Cheema, Dr. Hadia Majid, Dr. Hafiz Pasha and Ms. Roshaneh Zafar Date: 20th January 2021
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Dr. Hadia Majid was invited to speak at a virtual round table discussion organized by Kashf Foundation. Dr. Hadia Majid shared findings from her work with informal workers and home based workers and the vulnerabilities and hurdles they face vis-à-vis the labor market. Using a gendered lens on LFS 2014-2015, Dr. Majid shared that the female labor force participation rate for Pakistan is 22% whilst women’s employment to population equal 23%. Of the female paid employees in Pakistan, 62.5% work on casual contracts whilst 73.5% of female employment is in the informal sector. She also shared that 7.7% of girls aged 10-14 are in the labor force out of whom 86.1% work in agriculture. There is a massive wage differential when women are compared to men, with women earning 70% of what men earn for the same work. Moreover, there has also been an increasing feminization of the informal sector, and agriculture over the years in Pakistan. A majority of women employed in the agriculture sector work as unpaid family labor and do not earn wages which limits incremental economic well-being. Talking about the impact of Covid 19 on women, Dr. Majid shared that since women workers occupy a secondary status when compared with men elasticity analysis shows that women are the first to be laid off during economic crisis. The double burden of household management which women carry was exacerbated even more during the lockdown. Moreover, as a majority of women work in the informal sector, there were minimal legal or contractual requirements to retain or compensate women workers. Domestic workers, who generally work in unfavorable conditions, were very negatively impacted as a majority of them were laid off to prevent risk of infection. With respect to the policy recommendations, Dr. Majid stressed that a majority of issues faced by women in the labor market result from the social set-up in Pakistan which is geared against women. Data needs to thus be collected, gender segregated and leveraged to understand issues faced by women workers and create strategies to address them. More work needs to be undertaken to not just ensure the creation of women centric legislation but enabling conditions to ensure the implementation of the legislation is required.