Introduction: 'Gender and Development' Special Issue on Social Protection
Author: Caroline Sweetman
Size: 10 pages (186 KB)
This journal issue examines how social protection has been understood and implemented by the state, NGOs, and community organisations, and the impact of different initiatives on gender equality and women's rights. It highlights the need for more women's participation in the planning of social protection interventions, and for greater focus on transformative programmes that address structural barriers faced by women.
Women are disproportionately numbered among those in extreme poverty. In addition to the class- and race-based constraints on their lives and choices that poor women share with men, they also face constraints due to their sex. This creates complex vulnerability both for them and for their dependents.
Transformative approaches to social protection have much in common with gender and development as a field of research and activism because they are a fundamentally political way of thinking about poverty, its causes, and potential solutions. A transformative view of social protection acknowledges the political and social factors that shape poverty and deprivation. Policies and programmes informed by such analysis should understand the relationship between resources, choice, and empowerment. However, social protection policies and programmes are not always successful in furthering gender equality. They:
The potential of public works programmes to support gender equality may involve: the type of work (for example, to what extent it provides opportunities for paid women workers); the provision of childcare facilities; and supporting and promoting women's self-help groups to maintain and run facilities created by a programme. Public works programmes could also consider design elements such as flexible working hours for women and the use of public works labour to cultivate the land of female-headed households.
Gender analysis of the different roles of women and men enables social protection programmes to be more responsive to the needs of households and of wider society. A gender perspective:
Sweetman, C., 2011, ‘Introduction: Special Issue on Social Protection’, Gender and Development, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 169-177