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Changing gender roles in society through economic development

The Empower Youth for Work (EYW) programme in Pakistan works on young women and men’s social and economic empowerment by focusing on promoting an enabling environment. In Pakistan’s conservative society, restrictive gender roles can often act as a barrier to young women’s social and economic empowerment. To gain an insight into the current environment for young women and men, Oxfam in Pakistan and partners facilitated group discussions with participants of the EYW programme in Sindh.

With increased levels of education, women also start to develop economic activities. Workshop participants stated that in some cases, economic activities for women are becoming more accepted:

“If a woman does a job, she can support her family as well.”

The workshop findings highlight the strongly gendered division of roles and responsibilities in Pakistani families. Women typically do unpaid care work, while men are involved in paid work. This creates a power imbalance between men and women with regards to economic empowerment. However, we also found that there are some circumstances in which women are allowed more freedom to develop economic activities. An important realization emerging from the discussions is that the development of economic activities among young women adds another burden to their already heavy workload of household chores. Domestic violence and violence in the public sphere disempower women, destroy their self-esteem and thus undermine their ability to become economically empowered.

You can read the full report "If a women does a job, she can support her family as well' Insights from community discussions in Pakistan about changing gender roles in society through economic development, here and on Oxfam's platform Policy & Practice.