Social protection programming: the need for a gender lens

Briefing papers
October 2010

Social protection is an increasingly popular response to poverty and vulnerability, but gender issues have been integrated unevenly at best. Many programmes assume that targeting women will, in itself, address gender inequality, and while this is an important first step, the role of gender in social protection is more complex. The promotion of gender equality is often a secondary or indirect programme objective and social protection has often reinforced the traditional roles of women and girls, men and boys. Few programmes have harnessed the potential for a transformation of gender relations that would improve the impact of programmes on poverty and vulnerability.

This Briefing Paper draws on multi-country primary research on the incorporation of gender issues into the design and implementation of a range of social protection instruments. The research, funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), was carried out with national partners in Africa, Asia and Latin America. A mixed methods approach combined key informant interviews, household surveys, focus group discussions and life histories with men, women and children across the lifecycle.

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