"A Female … Will Not Be Available Here": Gendered Labour Markets in Northwest Pakistan's Rural Development Sector

Julia Grünenfelder

DOI: 10.2190/WR.15.2.g


While Pakistan has legally binding mechanisms to promote gender equality in employment, labour markets are shaped by the highly gender-segregated society they are embedded in. Based on the conceptualisation of labour markets as gendered institutions, I explore how gender generates unequal access to the labour market for social organisers—a term referring to a type of development practitioner—in the Hazara region, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan, making it difficult for women to participate in an occupational field where they are urgently needed to work with village women. Drawing on a comparison of job announcements and employees' profiles, I argue that social norms generate gendered inequalities of access to jobs as social organisers by regulating access to information, ability to travel, and eligibility for employment. In this article, I contribute to a better understanding of the gendered nature of this specific labour market, the impediments to gender equality in employment, and the need for an improvement in the work contexts of the female labour force in rural Pakistan in order to make it possible for women to do the job.

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