by Haris Gazdar
Photo Credit: Collective for Social Science Research
While researching the linkages between women’s work in agriculture and nutrition outcomes in Pakistan, for Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA), we came across an instructive puzzle. A big segment of the workforce is ruled out from participating in a particularly labour-intensive activity. The harvesting of cotton, an important cash crop, generates a great deal of seasonal employment in the rural economy but the work is almost entirely carried out by women who might remain employed on a non-stop basis for up to four months. Women and men, labourers and employers, all concur that it is women’s work, and a man stands to lose respect and status if he takes part in it.