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Monday, 9 April 2018

The Dairy Reform That Wasn’t

By Rashid Mehmood and Natasha Ansari


Modern, packaged milk still struggles to compete with the traditional alternative of loose, raw milk.
Photo credit: Fawad A. Najam, Flickr.com

There is a public debate about the quality and safety of milk sold to consumers. Most recently the Supreme Court took regulatory action with respect to some brands of packaged milk and also issued notices to companies regarding clearer labeling of whiteners as not being milk. Public attention on the dairy sector is welcome, but as government and courts gear up for action, it is important to understand the roots of current regulatory lapses, and to set out a broader agenda of reform that goes beyond consumer protection.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

The Mystery of Political Will

by Kabeer Dawani

Political will is thought to be the solution to all development problems. But what is it?
Photo credit: Flickr.com

Along with corruption, the “lack of political will” is perhaps the most common lament among Pakistanis for public policy failures. For instance, a recent article in the Economic and Political Weekly argued, “many of the issues surrounding the recent census [in Pakistan] would have been solved had there been a political will.”

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Teach a man how to fish? Social transfers in a “hungry” nation

by Hussain Bux Mallah

You can teach a man to fish, but does that ensure his household’s nutrition?
Photo credit: Pixabay.com

In the last two decades, there has been a lot of debate around social transfers, particularly cash transfer programmes. Do cash transfers give people dignity of choice, help them mitigate shocks and empower them, or do they “patronize” and provide an incentive for doing less work? Opponents almost always evoke the “teach a man to fish” proverb. However, there is an old joke built off this same proverb that says that even if one is taught how to fish it is likely that ‘he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day anyway.’ There is a grain of truth to this: with or without conditions, one can’t control what people choose to do with their time and resources. Still, many countries do try to ascertain the possibility that recipients spend cash transfers responsibly. In the United States, ten states require passing tests for drug use before one is eligible for welfare cash assistance or benefits.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Rest in power, Asma Jahangir

by Ayesha Khan


Asma Jahangir's funeral, 13th February 2018, Lahore, Pakistan
Picture credits: Rabia Mehmood

The untimely death of human rights defender Asma Jahangir has dealt a body blow to the Pakistani women’s movement and the peoples’ struggle for political empowerment. Most of those who attended her funeral yesterday in Lahore were less familiar with her international human rights profile and record as a Special Rapporteur for the United Nations in conflict-affected areas of the world. Those who came mourned her passing because she had fought for each one of their causes.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Extending agricultural policies to women

By Hussain Bux Mallah

Women picking cotton in Sanghar
Photo credit: Collective team

Pakistan’s employment trends show a steady feminization of the agricultural sector. Almost three-fourths of the female labour force is employed in agriculture, and the proportion of women working in agriculture has increased more than 10 percent from 2001-02 to 2012-13. However, the agriculture sector is not very friendly to women, especially to pregnant and/or lactating mothers. The health status of mothers working as agricultural labour and their children is alarming. Women who work in agriculture are far more likely to be underweight and to have children who are wasted and stunted than women who do not work in agriculture.  According to DHS 2012-13, out of all mothers who are working in the agriculture sector, 29 percent are underweight, 13 percent of their children are wasted and 52 percent are stunted.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Empathy for everyone?

By Marium Ibrahim

Is empathic connection only possible with those similar to us?
Photo credit: Pixabay.com

One of the common threads throughout my fieldwork experiences while working at the Collective is related to the dynamics between groups of different social standings. A Muhajir woman in Karachi, while talking about the sanitation system in her area, said that usually everyone keeps the area clean, except for the Bengalis who have their children throw trash on the streets in front of other people’s houses. In a village in Sanghar, people from a mainstream Soomro community talked about how people from a neighboring socially marginalized Nohri community were uncooperative and difficult to deal with.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Invisible work, visible harm

by Amna Akhtar

Panelists at Annual Conference on Rural Women Day (from left to right):
Ms. Akeela Naz, Ms. Kaukab Jehan, Dr. Huma Qureshi, Ms. Khawar Mumtaz,
Ms. Sabiha Nazeer and Ms. Benazir Jatoi

Pakistan relies heavily on agriculture and livestock for subsistence. Yet, over half of the children in rural areas do not achieve their growth potential (stunting) and every sixth child is too thin (wasted). Those responsible for most of this produce, the female agricultural workers, have some of the poorest health and nutrition outcomes. How is this possible and what can we do to remedy this situation?