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The decency of women’s working conditions in peri-urban dairy buffalo production systems in the District Faisalabad, Punjab, Pakistan


  • Juliane Erbach


Equitable working conditions and fair payment for female workers are often lacking. To analyse the decency of women’s working conditions in dairy production systems in Pakistan, female workers (n = 73) were asked about their on-farm activities in a semistructured face to face interview. In addition, participatory research tools were applied to determine problems the women are facing. The research was carried out in 2011. The workload of female family members is enormous: it is the task of women to take care of the household, the children, and the livestock. Farm related activities are to clean the sheds, to prepare dungcakes and to water and feed the buffalo. Not only the high number of working hours – 16 hours per day – , but also heavy physical workload, are certainly undecent. From 73 interviewed women, 86.1 % prepared dungcakes, 86.1 % were feeding the buffaloes, 91.7 % were in charge of cleaning the sheds and 65.3 % were involved in milking the animals. More than two thirds (69.8%) of the interviewees related the harsh working conditions to negative impacts on their body condition. The results from two group discussions showed that the major problems of working women, caused by the working conditions, were lack of time and money, and health problems resulting from work. In most cases (n = 47) the work was rendered in form of “unpaid family labour†while milk was mainly produced for subsistence, non-commercial sale to neighbours or commercial sale to a milkman (dhodi). Female farm labourers also participated in the research (n = 26). These women are also facing health problems and additionally they were complaining about inadequate payment. Most of these women (61.5 %) were not getting paid money. Commonly, the labourers (88.5 %, n = 26) were compensated with non-monetary goods like dungcakes, milk, feed or food. Less than half of the female labourers (46.2 %, n = 26) received a monetary payment. The income of the labouring families was often below the extreme poverty line defined by the World Bank (WB, 2011a). The products, milk and dungcakes, are the main outputs of the women’s work and have a high value in use and in exchange. Milk is especially important for the subsistence oriented or subsistence and market oriented farms, as it provides protein and fat for the family. Dungcakes are the main source of fuel – nearly 90 % (n =73) of the interviewed women used dungcakes for cooking purposes.

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  • Juliane Erbach, 2014. "The decency of women’s working conditions in peri-urban dairy buffalo production systems in the District Faisalabad, Punjab, Pakistan," ICDD Working Papers 10, University of Kassel, Fachbereich Gesellschaftswissenschaften (Social Sciences), Internatioanl Center for Development and Decent Work (ICDD).
  • Handle: RePEc:ajy:icddwp:10

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Raj Nallari & Breda Griffith, 2011. "Understanding Growth and Poverty : Theory, Policy, and Empirics," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2281, July.
    2. Rizwana Siddiqui, 2007. "Modelling Gender Dimensions of the Impact of Economic Reforms in Pakistan," Working Papers MPIA 2007-13, PEP-MPIA.
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