The SDGs’ commitment to inclusive growth reflects an increasing international concern with the inclusiveness of macro-economic development. Yet, although research underscores that economic growth is not gender-neutral, gender dimensions remain a footnote to these debates. This article explores the connection between growth performance and gender inequalities in the case of Pakistan. The country’s macro-economic performance has been characterised as a case of ‘growth without development’. More specifically, severe gender inequalities and women’s marginalisation in international comparison have persisted even in phases of high GDP growth. This paradoxical situation offers a fertile context for the analysis of how empowering macro-economic growth has been and can be for women. We investigate how empowering growth has been for women in Pakistan by exploring aggregate data on sectoral growth and gendered employment. Our analysis does not suggest the straightforward win–win for growth and women’s empowerment espoused in Pakistan’s national policy vision. Rather, we find that women’s employment is precarious—women are largely viewed as secondary earners engaging in distress sale of labour.
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