Impact of Social Obligations on Economic Agency of Women: A Case Study of District Bahawalpur

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Ansar Abbas, Muhammad Jahanzeb Akmal, Dr. Shakil Akhtar


Gender power relations occur in the backdrop of socio-political and economic environment of any society. Hence the economic potential of individual women is always influenced by environment in which gender power relations are woven and practiced. Social obligations are those tasks which are predominantly associated with women and economic agency is the ability to utilize their incomes according to the purposes they value for themselves and families. The determinants of economic agency are paid employment, participation in decision making direct or shared and opportunities and bargaining power to continue job. This research argue that social obligations as considered women’s responsibility has the potential to circumscribe the economic agency of women. It tries to uncover what is the nature of social obligations for working women in Bahawalpur? How and to what extent social obligations hinder women’s economic agency. It is also endeavored to explore that what effects employment does have on the decision making of women and how they bargain to achieve economic agency through its determinants. Data for this research was collected from 51 working women, i.e. doctors, lawyers, teachers, bankers, policewomen and customer services professional using fixed response questionnaire through convenient sampling method. Data is analyzed with the help of SPSS, further crosstabs are made to understand the various relations of economic agency and social obligations, through descriptive statistics. This research finds out that on various occasions social obligations become a source of inspiration for women to achieve economic agency, while for some women at various occasions they appear to limit their economic agency. Social obligations create the situations for women where they become in fix to resolve the riddles of work family obligations and fell victim to poor time management. Preoccupation of domestic work and job stress lead women to health deterioration. This research concludes that the effects of social obligations are contextual and play through the intersects of family size, family background and nature of profession in Bahawalpur, and can be deeper if studied at national level. This research recommends that social obligations as an important feature of care economy must be raised as a policy matter and political agenda in Pakistan.

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