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Gender-sensitive social protection

machanisms for addressing poverty and vulnerability

Rebecca Holmes
Nicola Jones


Much of the emerging evidence from low-income countries on social protection programmes in relation to gender and women’s empowerment emphasises the benefits of targeting social protection programmes – particularly transfers – to women in the household for better development outcomes. While on the one hand putting resources into the hands of women is seen to strengthen their status and decision-making within the household, there is concern that such mechanisms only reinforce the traditional roles of women as carers in the household. This paper draws on ODI’s multi-country research study on social protection and gender to look more broadly at the effects of a wide range of social protection mechanisms (cash transfers, public works, targeted services and asset transfers) and asks to what extent social protection can support gender equality beyond addressing women’s practical needs. Can social protection play a role in promoting empowerment in the economic and social spheres and promoting women’s strategic interests, e.g. promote economic opportunities for women, reduce women’s time poverty, provide a more equitable division of labour in terms of care work responsibilities and promote women’s voice in community decisions? This paper will discuss the effects of social protection at the individual, household and community level; explore the opportunities and limitations of current social protection design and implementation for promoting economic and social empowerment and greater gender equality; and provide clear policy recommendations for improving social protection design and implementation to support gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Publication Type(s)

Conference Paper

Ten Years of War Against Poverty Conference Papers

Conference: Ten Years of War Against Poverty


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