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Global Go To Think Tank Index (GGTTI) 2020 launched                    111,75 Think Tanks across the world ranked in different categories.                SDPI is ranked 90th among “Top Think Tanks Worldwide (non-US)”.           SDPI stands 11th among Top Think Tanks in South & South East Asia & the Pacific (excluding India).            SDPI notches 33rd position in “Best New Idea or Paradigm Developed by A Think Tank” category.                SDPI remains 42nd in “Best Quality Assurance and Integrity Policies and Procedure” category.              SDPI stands 49th in “Think Tank to Watch in 2020”.            SDPI gets 52nd position among “Best Independent Think Tanks”.                           SDPI becomes 63rd in “Best Advocacy Campaign” category.                   SDPI secures 60th position in “Best Institutional Collaboration Involving Two or More Think Tanks” category.                       SDPI obtains 64th position in “Best Use of Media (Print & Electronic)” category.               SDPI gains 66th position in “Top Environment Policy Tink Tanks” category.                SDPI achieves 76th position in “Think Tanks With Best External Relations/Public Engagement Program” category.                    SDPI notches 99th position in “Top Social Policy Think Tanks”.            SDPI wins 140th position among “Top Domestic Economic Policy Think Tanks”.               SDPI is placed among special non-ranked category of Think Tanks – “Best Policy and Institutional Response to COVID-19”.                                            Owing to COVID-19 outbreak, SDPI staff is working from home from 9am to 5pm five days a week. All our staff members are available on phone, email and/or any other digital/electronic modes of communication during our usual official hours. You can also find all our work related to COVID-19 in orange entries in our publications section below.    The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) is pleased to announce its Twenty-third Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) from 14 – 17 December 2020 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The overarching theme of this year’s Conference is Sustainable Development in the Times of COVID-19. Read more…       FOOD SECIRITY DASHBOARD: On 4th Nov, SDPI has shared the first prototype of Food Security Dashboard with Dr Moeed Yousaf, the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on  National Security and Economic Outreach in the presence of stakeholders, including Ministry of National Food Security and Research. Provincial and district authorities attended the event in person or through zoom. The dashboard will help the government monitor and regulate the supply chain of essential food commodities.


“WHAT comfortable stereotypes we have created: ‘It is men who carry the major burden of economic work on this planet. They are the breadwinners. Women’s work carries no economic value.’ Such work may be essential but banish the thought that it should ever enter national income accounts, or even surface in separate satellite accounts. What a successful conspiracy to reduce women to economic nonentities.”
— Dr Mahbub-ul Haq

It is a well-masked secret that in Pakistan, poverty and hunger have a female face. Sometimes, the mask slips, as happened during a federal minister’s presentation to international donors and creditors at the Pakistan Development Forum a decade ago. I was present, shell-shocked. Thus, the world found out that three-quarters of Pakistan’s abject absolute poor are women and girls, i.e. for every four Pakistanis in poverty, three are women/girls.

Those at the helm of power in the Federal Ministry of Finance, especially its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper secretariat and the Planning Commission know this, but need to keep up the pretence of ignorance, to justify inaction. In fact, despite our right to information (Article 19-A), the finance ministry now even withholds from Pakistani citizens the national data on the poverty head count, by eliminating this vital information from the annual Pakistan Economic Survey (PES).

It is public knowledge that there is chronic intra-government disagreement, between the Planning Commission and finance ministry, on the definitions of poverty (inter alia, income poverty and daily calorific intake), its calculation methods and incidence. A respected former chief economist paid the price for his courageous refusal to endorse the then finance-cum-prime minister’s fudging of poverty head count figures, by arbitrarily changing the definitions and goalposts.

In the wilful absence of government data, academic research is utilised. The Oxford Poverty Research Institute and UN data parallel that of a number of highly respected, credible Pakistan-based research organisations, particularly the Mahbub-ul Haq Human Development Centre and the Social Policy and Development Centre.

From their independent research publications, poverty estimates are extrapolated, showing multi-dimensional poverty between 51-54 per cent of the population, and below-Rs200-a-day poverty ranging between 65-75 per cent.

The result of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute and the UN’s collaborative national survey on food insecurity is alarming at 52 per cent; while food inflation has ranged between 18-25 per cent over the past five years. Even the government admits: “persistence of high double-digit inflation… has become intolerable;… it hurts the lowest income groups most, as 50-60 per cent [of their] expenditure is on food”.

And: “rich-poor gap increased in urban Pakistan … [The] poor before price increases may now be on verge of hunger and malnutrition, and those who were barely above the poverty line may have slipped back into poverty” (PES 2011).

The female/male poverty ratio of 3:1 is shameful. Taken together with Dr Mahbub-ul-Haq’s quantification of the Poverty of Opportunity Index at over 40 per cent (1990s), and the continuing gendered dimensions of multiple deprivations, including hunger, under-nutrition/malnutrition, ill-health, illiteracy, unemployment, unremunerated/ uncounted labour, inadequate shelter, absence of basic utilities; added to gender-based violence, injustice, social exclusion and powerlessness — the emerging picture is not pretty.

The evidence clearly shows that women experience poverty differently and are worse off than men in poverty, additionally suffering lack of documentation, assets ownership, creditworthiness, information, mobility, a triple burden of unremunerated work, lack of control over remuneration where it does exist; lack of recognition of women-headed households; ghettoisation, exploitation and lack of benefits for women rural agricultural workers and urban home-based workers — exclusion from the formal, organised sector labour force as defined.

That is just the tip of the iceberg of the outrage that is the feminisation of poverty in Pakistan. But does anyone care? And why should anyone care? Women and girls comprise around 48 per cent of our population and, as equal citizens, are entitled to equality of opportunity and of outcome, through affirmative action, as enshrined in the constitution’s Fundamental Rights and Principles of Policy.

This requires not just token monthly charitable handouts as meagre social protection and vote-insurance actions, but actual longer-term poverty eradication measures.

These include, starting with assets ownership, a minimum of one acre of agricultural land per rural woman and joint title ownership of family assets, leading to creditworthiness; increased food security through enhanced investments in agriculture, livestock, agribusiness, agri-extension training and inputs; revised inclusive definitions of women agricultural and home-based workers in the labour force, leading to their registration and eligibility for social security, health and education benefits; and inclusion of women’s contribution to GDP. We need to demonstrate that we do care, as we should…

This article was originally published at: Dawn

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.