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Gender and Social Protection in the Developing World

Gender and Social Protection in the Developing World

Rebecca Holmes | Nicola Jones


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Millions of pounds of international development funds are invested annually in social protection programmes to tackle poverty. Poverty is perpetuated by risk and vulnerability, much of which is gendered. Despite this, little attention has been paid to gender-sensitive policy and programme design and implementation. Gender and Social Protection in the Developing World introduces a much-needed gender lens to these debates. Drawing on empirical evidence from poor households and communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America, the book provides rich insight into the effects of a range of social protection instruments. It concludes that with relatively simple changes to design and with investment in implementation capacity, social protection can contribute to transforming gender relations at the individual, intrahousehold and community levels. With a foreword by Stephen Devereux.
Rebecca Holmes is a Research Fellow in the Social Protection Programme at the Overseas Development Institute. Her research and policy work focuses on the linkages between social protection and social policy, and she has particular expertise in gender analysis. With a geographical focus on South and South-East Asia, her research includes studies on gender and social protection effectiveness, social protection and social inclusion, and social protection in fragile and post-conflict states. She has published widely for a range of governmental, nongovernmental and donor audiences on social protection, and has spoken at a variety of public events and conferences on social protection. Nicola Jones has a PhD in political science and is a Research Fellow in the Social Development Programme at the Overseas Development Institute. Her research, advice and public affairs work focuses on gender analysis, social protection and poverty reduction policies, child well-being, and the linkages between knowledge, policy and power. Since 2007 she has led a number of multi-country studies on the intersection between social justice and social protection in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. She is currently a lead researcher in a cross-country study on citizen perceptions of cash transfers in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, and is managing a regional review of gender-responsive social protection in Southeast Asia for UN Women. Nicola has published widely for a range of academic, policy and practitioner audiences, including six co-authored books. The most recent are: Knowledge Policy and Power in International Development: A Practical Guide (2012) and Children in Crisis: Seeking Child-sensitive Policy Responses (2012).
'Holmes and Jones should be congratulated for making this compelling case for gender-sensitive social protection programming. Their considerable experience and expertise ensures this book will be an essential read for hardened "social protectionistas", students, researchers and practitioners.' Professor Armando Barrientos, Senior Research Fellow, World Brooks Poverty Institute, University of Manchester 'This publication highlights a key gap in the current design of social protection programs and policies. Taking into account the barriers that women face in accessing resources, mainstreaming gender equality in social protection interventions is critical. This publication contributes to a rethinking of current interventions on social protection.' Lilian Keene-Mugerwa, Platform For Labour Action 'A timely and critical addition to the literature on this subject - the authors guide the reader to an approach to social protection that leads towards real transformation. Comprehensive yet context specific, this book provides an excellent balance of theory with practical guidance. A must-read for governments, donors, NGOs, consultants, students and academics.' Suzette Mitchell, UN Women (Vietnam) 'Examining the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to social protection in reducing extreme poverty, Rebecca Holmes and Nicola Jones argue that their effectiveness would be greatly increased if they took proper account of gender relations. Unless gender inequality is understood to be playing a major role in perpetuating poverty, current programmes will fail to achieve their potential. Analytically strong with richly illustrated examples based on research carried out in five continents, this book makes an important and welcome contribution to the ongoing debate over how to tackle poverty.' Professor Maxine Molyneux, Director of the Institute of the Americas, University College London 'Holmes and Jones convincingly demonstrate that only social protection policies developed with a gender lens can alter the causes of poverty and vulnerability. Their prescriptions for programme change have the potential to transform lives on the ground. This book should be required reading for academics and practitioners alike.' Liesl Haas, Department of Political Science, California State University 'Providing a rich evidence base on gendered risk and vulnerabilities, this is a valuable analysis of social protection programmes through a gender lens. The authors document the potential and limits of social protection tools in transforming women's lives, providing valuable lessons to policy makers and practitioners that can improve the gender sensitivity and transformative potential of their programmes.' Sarah Cook, Director of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
More praise i
About the authors iii
Title page v
Copyright vi
Table of contents vii
Illustrations ix
Foreword by Stephen Devereux x
Preface xiv
Acknowledgements xvi
List of abbreviations xviii
Introduction: why social protection needs a gender lens 1
Beyond mothers and safety nets: the argument for a gender-sensitive approach to social protection 2
Methodology 7
Figure 0.1 Life story of Tamenu 9
Figure 0.2 Life story of Faisal 9
Figure 0.3 Life story of Mayimbu 10
Figure 0.4 Life story of MiLenh 10
Structure of the book 11
1 Key concepts in gender and social protection 14
Introduction 14
Concepts of poverty and vulnerability 15
Concepts of gender in development 17
Box 1.1 Addressing gender inequality leads to poverty reduction, economic growth and enhanced household resilience 18
Conceptualising social protection 22
Box 1.2 Approaches to social protection 23
Table 1.1 Social protection categories and instruments 26
Integrating a gender lens into the transformative social protection framework 27
Table 1.2 Examples of gendered economic and social risks and vulnerabilities 28
Figure 1.1 Pathways mediating the effects of economic and social risks on gendered well-being 32
Box 1.3 Gender-related policy and legislation implications for social protection 33
2 The gendered patterning of vulnerability, risk and resilience 35
Introduction 35
Economic vulnerabilities and risks 35
Box 2.1 Poverty and vulnerability as a gendered experience 36
Personal Narrative 2.1: Tamenu’s experience of multilayered shocks in southern Ethiopia 37
Figure 2.1 Asset distribution among women’s marital and natal families 41
Social vulnerabilities and risks 45
Table 2.1 Worsening sex ratios at birth over time 47
Box 2.2 Life-course and intergenerational consequences of reproductive health vulnerabilities in Latin America 50
Resilience: gendered patterning of coping strategies and resources 53
Conclusions 60
3 Transferring income and assets: assessing the contribution to gender-sensitive poverty reduction 62
Introduction 62
Cash and asset transfers: an overview 63
Table 3.1 Typology of cash and asset transfer approaches 64
Applying a gender lens to transfer programmes 67
Case studies: cash and asset transfers in Ghana, Peru and Bangladesh 73
Table 3.2 Cash and asset case study programme details 75
Personal Narrative 3.1: Cash transfers can provide relief for the poorest – Bange’s experience of living with illness in Ghana 79
Personal Narrative 3.2: Asma’s experience of integrated social protection in Bangladesh 89
Conclusions 93
4 Working one’s way out of poverty: public works through a gender lens 96
Introduction 96
Table 4.1 Gender differences in labour force participation 96
Personal Narrative 4.1: PWPs as a lifeline for the extreme poor – Tamenu in Ethiopia 97
Applying a gender lens to public works programmes 98
Box 4.1 Using public works labour in social sector activities 103
Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP): an antidote to emergency-focused development 105
Box 4.2 Rural poverty and gender in Ethiopia 105
Personal Narrative 4.2: Family headship norms may disproportionately affect young men – Haile in Ethiopia 107
India’s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS): a transformative approach to tackling poverty 111
Box 4.3 Agriculture, poverty reduction and gender in India 112
Box 4.4 Accounting for variation in women’s participation by state 115
Table 4.2 Unpaid work and its implications for community asset generation through PWPs 119
Conclusions 122
5 Insuring against shocks: the gendered dimensions of insurance 124
Introduction 124
Personal Narrative 5.1: The ripple effects of health vulnerabilities – Pho Ly in Vietnam 125
Integrating a gender lens into insurance 127
Informal insurance mechanisms 131
Formal insurance 135
Box 5.1 Domestic workers and social insurance access 137
Box 5.2 Gender-sensitive pension reforms in Latin America 138
Table 5.1 Social health insurance examples from developing countries 142
Personal Narrative 5.2: Without life insurance, surviving family members often face long-term vulnerabilities – Osman Mohammed in Ghana 149
Box 5.3 Self-Employed Women’s Association(SEWA) – micro-insurance good practice 151
Conclusions 157
6 Ensuring access to state provision: towards more gender-sensitive subsidy schemes 159
Introduction 159
Subsidy programmes: an overview 159
Gender dimensions of subsidy design, implementation and impact 161
Personal Narrative 6.1: Boys are also vulnerable to being taken out of school – Faisal’s experience, Indonesia 162
Food subsidies 163
Agricultural input subsidies 166
Education and health subsidies 168
Subsidised childcare services 172
Box 6.1 Estancias and intra-household dynamics 175
Integrated subsidies 176
Box 6.2 Social protection in Vietnam 177
Personal Narrative 6.2: Integrated subsidy programmes help serve basic needs – Mi Lenh in Vietnam 179
Conclusion 180
7 Why politics matters: a genderedpolitical economy approach to social protection 182
Introduction 182
Defining political economy 183
Conceptualising gendered political economy 184
Political economy opportunities and challenges for gender-sensitive social protection 186
Box 7.1 The gendered political economy of cash transfers in Pakistan 188
Box 7.2 MGNREGS’s social audit approach 196
Box 7.3 A mismatch between government commitment to women’s economic empowerment and resourcing 199
Box 7.4 The pivotal role of women’s voluntary organisations in constructing early-twentieth-century social welfare policy in the USA 202
Box 7.5 Transformative opportunities only partially realised 205
Conclusions 207
8 Conclusions and recommendations: advancing gender-sensitive social protection 209
Introduction 209
Policy and programme design 210
Table 8.1 Examples of good practice in policy and programme design 211
Implementation capacity and fiscal space 213
Table 8.2 Examples of good practice in terms of implementation capacity 213
Institutional coordination and linkages 215
Table 8.3 Examples of good practice in institutional coordination and linkages 216
Community–programme interface 217
Table 8.4 Examples of good practice at the community–programme interface 218
Monitoring, evaluation and lesson learning 220
Table 8.5 Examples of good practice in terms of monitoring, evaluation and lesson learning 221
Box 8.1 Monitoring and evaluation indicators for gender-sensitive social protection 222
Political economy dynamics 224
Moving forward 226
Annex 1 Public works programmes and their gender dimensions 228
Annex 2 Examples of gendered impacts of key social protection instruments at individual, intra-household and community levels 241
Glossary 256
Notes 259
References 271
Index 307