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Issues discussed by the narrators include women’s role and position, changing attitudes, prejudice, marriage arrangements and dowry, and educational opportunities.

Women in all communities are marginalised. In the Manchar Lake area, for example, 50 per cent of men over 15 years of age are living below the poverty line, compared to 90 per cent of women.

Basran and Fatima talk in detail about marriage practices and attitudes: “A daughter is another’s property.”

Salma is a female entrepreneur who has challenged social norms in several ways, but also gives her opinion on the forces that hold back other women in her society.

Chhutta believes women should not have independent jobs or secular education, yet he appreciates the work of a woman councillor who has ignored such views.

Kishore says that in Sanghar economic opportunities are opening up for young women in sewing and craftwork, while boys “still have no work”.


Gender is a key theme of the Living with poverty: Pakistan oral testimony project.


Allah Bux: older generation

Basran: desperate times

Chhutta: migrant’s tale

Fatima: vulnerable lives

Hodat: diversifying business

Karim Bux: lacking support

Khamiso: looking back

Kishore: living prudently

Mircho: losing dignity

Nasreen: just surviving

Nazeer: high standards

Salma: independent spirit

Key themes

Introduction to the project

Loans and debt

Survival strategies

The cost of poverty

Environmental decline


Political representation


Insecurity and conflict


Food security and health