Women, health, and poverty in Gwadar, Balochistan, Pakistan

Date of Completion

January 1991


Anthropology, Cultural|Economics, History|Health Sciences, Nutrition




This study presents results of field research on women's income-generating activities and their impact on their health status. The research was conducted in Gwadar, a coastal town in Makran, Balochistan, Pakistan.^ The population of Gwadar is primarily of Baloch ethnicity. However, there is significant diversity among the populace based upon socioeconomic status of the families. There are two major categories: the higher social status groups (Mirs, Rinds, Raees, etc.), and the lower social status groups of Maids (fishermen) and Darzadics (laborers). The Mirs, Rinds, and Raees are of white complexion, and are considered "real Baloch." In contrast, the Maids and Darzadics have Negroid features with dark complexion, and are believed to be the indigenous people of Gwadar.^ The results of my general survey conducted on a sample of 117 households indicate that 42 (35.9%) women were involved in various types of income-generating activities both inside and outside their households. The majority of these women belonged to poor Maid and Darzadic families.^ Those women who were making a substantial amount of money expressed higher degree of decision-making power over their household and personal matters. As far as mother and child health status is concerned, malaria, upper respiratory infections, and gastro-intestinal illnesses were very common among both women and children in Gwadar. A total of 58 women and 68 children were either ill or had been ill during the two weeks prior to being interviewed.^ In general, modern medicines were most popular in Gwadar. However, traditional medicines were also used for various illnesses, especially those which were believed to be caused by supernatural powers, along with a number of home-based treatments.^ Data generated from this study provide important guidelines upon which future health care planning for maternal and child health (MCH) and women's income-generating activities can be based. ^