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Institutional reform and de facto Women Rights in Pakistan

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Principal Investigator: Dr. Dana Burde
CERP Staff: Mariam Rafique Vadria (Research Manager)
Project Type: Quantitative, longitudinal, and survey-based, with complementary qualitative interviews
Start Date: May 2017

Policy Issue
Over half of Pakistan’s population is under 30 years old. Globally, large youth populations present both enormous potential and significant policy challenges. In response in many countries, governments and international aid agencies dedicate significant resources to education programs. Despite the emphasis placed on education, scant empirical research investigates the causal relationship between access to education and positive or negative attitudes and behaviors among youth in developing countries.

Research Design
Our study offers a rigorous testing of this relationship. THINK seeks to understand access to tertiary education among youth in Karachi and its relationship to their hopes and future aspirations. THINK partners with universities across Karachi to survey applicants to university, with a focus upon two groups: those who narrowly pass the admissions process and are offered admission, and those who narrowly fail the process and are not. On average, the group of applicants just above and just below the threshold of acceptance resemble each other in all important characteristics, namely those that will determine future attitudes and behaviors. They thus differ primarily in their access to university. We will survey these two groups at three points in time: (1) before the release of university admissions decisions, (2) shortly after the release, and (3) one year after the release. In so doing, we will observe the initial effects of access to university education on each individual and across both groups, then measure whether these effects diminish, persist, or amplify with time.

Policy Implications
By measuring the impact of educational access in Karachi, we will better understand how access to university education affects youths’ hopes, aspirations, and future trajectories. With this knowledge, and by disseminating our findings to key stakeholders and policymakers, we aim to facilitate improved education policies and programs for youth in Pakistan and beyond.

Sidra Shah

Sidra Shah

Title Training and Career Counselling Officer
Project  Women's Mobility Program
Duration  May 2018- Present
Degree  Bachelors in Economics 
University/Organization  Lahore University of Management Sciences


Profile: Sidra joined CERP on September 2017 as a field researcher for Education Program. Through traveling across Punjab, she gained an intensive fieldwork experience. Afterward, she joined Women's Mobility Project as a field researcher and with time, she has become a Training and Career Counselling Officer for Job Asaan which is also an initiative of Punjab Commission on the Status of Women. Sidra graduated in 2017 with her Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Lahore University of Management Sciences. Sidra wants to make a difference with the work she does and that is why she believes she has ended up here. 


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Institutional Reform and Women's De Facto Rights in Pakistan


Principal Investigators: Dr. Erica Field (Duke University) & Dr. Kate Vyborny (Duke University)

Implementing Partners: Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW)

Donors: Economic Development and Institutions (EDI), Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL)

Project type: Phase 1: Pilot project Phase 2: Large-scale project (covering all 36 districts of Punjab)

Start Date: 1st March 2017

End Date: (Not specified)

Status: Phase 1 on-going

Project Background

One important constraint on women’s de facto legal rights in Pakistan is the fact that government officials who carry out basic legal functions such as marriage registration and the processing of inheritance of property often follow their own judgment. These people are ill-informed on details concerning the law, or respond under pressure from interested parties rather than complying strictly with the law.

Policy Implication

In the proposed pilot project, CERP will work in close collaboration with PCSW on the initial stages of rigorous impact evaluation of two major initiatives designed to address these challenges and ensure women’s de facto rights in two key areas: their legal share of inheritance, and key rights in marriage. To do so, we will evaluate (1) an initiative to impose new procedural requirements and incentives for government officials involved in property transfer, and (2) the first ever initiative to train approximately forty thousand (40,000) marriage registrars in thirty-six (36) districts of Punjab. Thus, the initiative targets extremely broad population of beneficiaries: all women in Punjab, the largest province of Pakistan.

Project Evaluation

If the study identifies an effect of either or both reforms on legal practices, it will prepare the ground for a future full-scale study of the impacts on women and their families through a household survey sampled directly from the administrative data.

Waleed Zafar

Waleed Zafar

Title Junior Associate Communication and Outreach
Project Management Team
Duration May 2018-Present
Degree MPhil in Public Policy with Major's in Peace and Conflict Resolution
University Forman Christian College

Profile: Waleed Zafar is the Communications Associate at Center for Economic Research in Pakistan. He has previously worked as a Research and Communications Manager at FACES Pakistan. During his time at FACES Pakistan, he worked to uplift the rights of Afghan refugees and also assisted in Punjab government's Human Rights Ministry project of "Promoting Value Education through Peace Education in Punjab". Waleed holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from LSE and a Master's degree in Public Policy from Center for Public Policy and Governance (CPPG). 


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