Publication Date



Key Messages

  • Despite increases in recent years, female labor force participation in Pakistan, at 25%, is well below rates for countries with similar income levels. Even among women with high levels of education, labor force participation lags: only around 25% of women with a university degree in Pakistan are working.

  • This low female labor force participation represents a major loss of potential productivity. It also has important implications for women’s empowerment, as working women are more likely to play a role in household decision making compared with nonworking women in the same villages or even in the same families.

  • The study found that many women in Pakistan would like to work; there are multiple reasons why they do not. One of the key reasons—on which policy could have an effect—is that women face restrictions on their physical mobility outside the home.

  • Several interconnected factors restrict women’s mobility outside the home, among them (i) social, cultural, and religious norms; (ii) safety and crime; quality of available transport services.


Suggested Citation
Asian Development Bank. (2016). Policy brief on female labor force participation in Pakistan (ADB Brief No. 70). Mandaluyong City, Philippines: Author.

Required Publisher's Statement
© Asian Development Back. Available at ADB’s Open Access Repository under a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY 3.0 IGO).