Women in Pakistan's Urban Informal Economy: Vulnerabilities, Opportunities and Policy Solutions

In rapidly urbanizing developing countries, the prevalence large-scale informality within urban economies increases social vulnerabilities, stifles worker productivity and dampens regional economic growth. With the prospect of better jobs attracting millions into cities each year, rising urban poverty levels are encouraging international nonprofits to allocate greater resources toward urban programs. With support from Oxfam GB’s Asia Urbanization Program, the Urban Institute conducted fieldwork in four Pakistani cities (Karachi, Lahore, Sialkot and Hyderabad) to explore how women in the urban informal economy are unable to take advantage of the opportunities from economic growth. The research found that above all else, urban informal workers require improvements in public service delivery, skillset development and collective bargaining capacity. It proposed implementing future urban programs through an iterative learning, adaptation and implementation approach allowing nonprofits to leverage greater impact from finite resources.

Funder Information

Oxfam GB

Period of Performance

September – November 2015

In rapidly urbanizing developing countries, the prevalence large-scale informality within urban economies increases social vulnerabilities, stifles worker productivity and dampens regional economic growth. With the prospect of better jobs attracting millions into cities each year, rising urban poverty levels are encouraging international nonprofits to allocate greater resources toward urban programs. Our fieldwork in Pakistan reveals that above all else, urban informal workers require improvements in public service delivery, skillset development and collective bargaining capacity. We propose implementing future urban programs through an iterative learning, adaptation and implementation approach allowing nonprofits to leverage greater impact from finite resources.

Women in Pakistan's Urban Informal Economy