Understanding the Effect of Skills Training on Women's Economic Opportunities in Pakistan

This project will evaluate the impact of skills training on women's livelihoods in rural Pakistan. The goal is to guide cost-effective and feasible interventions that enhance economic returns on training and reduce barriers to women's financial well-being.

Women's labour force participation significantly lags behind men's in Pakistan (22% compared to 69%). A systematic assessment of what economic and non-economic measures are most effective in reducing the gender gap in employment is missing.

This project seeks to address the lack of evidence by assessing the impact of the Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF). The PSDF is a joint UK Department for International Development-Pakistan and Government of Punjab initiative aimed at providing skills and vocational training opportunities to women in the four poorest districts of Punjab.

The project seeks to

-provide empirical evidence on the factors affecting uptake and economic returns on training for women in rural Pakistan;

-enrich policy debate, both within Pakistan and internationally, on the cost-effective ways of improving women's access to skills training and economic opportunities; and

-improve PSDF's ability to design and implement policies that strengthen women's economic empowerment. The Harvard Center for International Development's Evidence for Policy Design will lead the initiative. The internationally recognized Center for Economic Research in Pakistan, based in Lahore, will work closely with the Harvard team.

This research is supported under the Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women (GrOW) program. GrOW is a five-year, multi-funder partnership of the United Kingdom's Department for International Development, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and IDRC.

With a focus on low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, GrOW aims to support policies and interventions that improve women's livelihoods and contribute to societal well-being. One component of the program will support 11 projects addressing barriers to women's economic empowerment and gender gaps in earnings and productivity. This project is among them, selected following a competitive call.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


24 months

IDRC Officer

Madiha Ahmed

Total funding

CA$ 904,600


South Asia, Pakistan, United Kingdom, United States


Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women

Project Leader

Dr Asim Ijaz Khwaja

Project Leader

Jennifer Lech


President and Fellows of Harvard College

Institution Country

United States

Institution Website