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Gender disparities widen in Thatta after floods: report

Gender disparities have further widened while some 98 per cent of women and 91 per cent of children have faced severe food shortages and suffered from various illnesses, says a report that examines the impact of 2010 floods beyond the social, cultural and economic activities of women and men in Thatta district and includes various indicators of well-being.

The report titled The Socio Economic Impact of Floods in District Thatta: A Gendered Analysis, was launched along with Gender Dimensions of Rural Non-Farm Employment in Pakistan, another study, on Friday at a local hotel.

The Social Policy and Development Centre (SPDC) has prepared both reports, the seventh and eighth in a series, under a Gender Research Programme funded by the Royal Norwegian embassy.

“As part of coping strategy to deal with food insecurity, 86 per cent of the affected families in the district did not eat food for one full day and 85 per cent reduced their food consumption either by reducing their intake or by reducing number of meals. A significant percentage [82.6] of the households ensured availability of food for children by reducing adult food consumption,” says the report.

During the post-floods period, homelessness, chronic and epidemic diseases caused by stagnant water, unhygienic conditions and a reduction in the number of trained health personnel led to health-related challenges.

The data collected also shows that some 99pc of the female respondents and 60pc of the male respondents continue to live with psychological distress at the time of the survey. The three common reasons cited by female respondents were under-nourishment, absence of proper shelter and economic deprivation along with overall uncertainty.

Around 500 households consisting of 3,000-plus family members of the affected talukas of Thatta district were contacted for the survey.

According to the report, the increase in economic and social vulnerabilities of women was accompanied by reduction in employment opportunities. A closer look at male and female employment ratio shows that while male population ratio to employment remained more or less the same, women employment to population ratio decreased from 38pc (prior to the flood) to 26pc of working age population at the time of survey in 2012.

As a result, gender disparity in the population to employment ratio further widened.

The survey indicates that the responsibility of household work was imposed disproportionately on women even before the floods, which further increased in the post-flood period and while the role and responsibilities of women increased in the household unpaid care work, their socialising, that was visiting relatives, also significantly decreased during the post-flood period.

It also clearly portrays worsening conditions, particularly in the sectors of education and health with the help of a comparison between 2008-9 and 2010-11. For example, the proportion of illiteracy rate, both among males and females has increased (6.4pc and 3pc, respectively) along with an increase in out-of-school boys and girls (12.9pc and 2.7pc, respectively).

The proportion of flood victims with no immunisation and Tetanus Toxoid injection also increased by 3.3pc and 20.4pc, respectively.

The key findings of the second report, which evaluates gender differences in terms of patterns, determinants and extent of participation in rural non-farm income generation activities, are: about 32 to 35pc of the rural male labour force is participating in non-farm wage employment sector in three provinces, whereas the percentage in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is quite high (48pc).

Conversely, 4pc of the rural female labour force is reportedly working as wage employees in the non-farm economy. The incidence of female employment is highest in Punjab (5.37) and the lowest (0.59) in Balochistan. About 3pc of female wage employment each was observed in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Almost 83pc and 63pc of male and female wage employees respectively are working in the private sector whereas 15pc of wage workers, irrespective of gender are in public sector.

Female employees were also reportedly working as domestic worker.

The survey estimates an incidence of 6pc child labour participation in non-farm wage employment. Highest incidence was reported in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while surprisingly its incidence was relatively low in Sindh and Balochistan.

Analysis of differences in wages between men and women indicates that women were either underpaid or involved in low-paid (unskilled) rural non-farm activities.

“The study clearly indicates that distinct policies for accelerating the rate of participation should be made for each agro-climatic zone. These policies should consider the available agriculture endowments, human resources and extent of dynamism and commercialisation of agriculture,” the report suggests.