Perceptions of Inequality: Pakistani & Afghani Women

The people of Afghanistan and Pakistan have endured over 30 years of oppression, poverty, violence, and widespread human rights violations. While living in war-conflicted countries takes its toll on everyone, the women in these countries also bear extreme gender-based restrictions which often deny them access to healthcare services, education, employment, and political participation as well as basic human rights. Despite these restrictions, women are integral to achieving and sustaining peace in these countries and are making initial strides to protect their rights and freedoms.  Considering the unique challenges facing female populations, The Women in Muslim Countries Program explores Afghanistan in a comparative context with Pakistan.

D3 Systems and the Pacific Institue for Research & Evaluation (PIRE) assess perceptions of inequality among Afghan and Pakistani women, as well as the strongest predictors of perceived inequality, including access to healthcare services, education, employment, political participation, legal access, and protection from violence through laws. D3 and PIRE’s 2014 paper explores the impact of different media sources on perceptions of inequality in order to examine whether access to and use of Western media is associated with perceived inequality among these women.  The ultimate goal of this paper is to better inform and improve gender development programming.

In order to achieve that objective, analysis was conducted on data collected in Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2012. Both are face-to-face surveys of nationally representative samples drawn using a stratified, multi-stage selection procedure. The Pakistani survey was conducted among a random sample of 2,012 adults from March 19th-30th, 2012, though this paper focuses on the opinions of the 968 female respondents. The sample included the four Pakistani provinces and Islamabad Capital Territory, and excluded the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The Afghan survey was conducted from January 24-February 3, 2012 among a random sample of 2,018 Afghan adults, with 971 female respondents. Women were interviewed in all Afghan provinces other than Paktika, which was inaccessible at that time for female interviewers.

Key Findings:

  • Afghan women had fewer rights than Pakistani women, which was found for all outcomes except for education and healthcare.
  • Between 2012 and 2014, there was a decrease in women’s access to healthcare and reproductive health decisions, including pre-natal/post-natal care, women’s health care, and general health services.
  • Insurgents are trying to reverse education gains among Afghan girls.
  • Women who accept international aid are considered “nation betrayers” by the Taliban.

For more in-depth results, download the presentation and paper.

Stacey Frank of D3 Systems and Stephen Shamblen of the Pacific Institue for Research & Evaluation (PIRE) presented these findings at the 69th annual American Association of Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) Conference in Annaheim, California from May 15th – May 18th, 2014.  Check out our Research & Publications page for more AAPOR 2014 papers and presentations.