Gender-sensitive policy design and implementation

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Social protection programmes that mainstream the inclusion of women require policy makers  to assess the underlying causes of exclusion, and take deliberate measures to address women’s gender-specific risks and vulnerabilities. For example, States must pay particular attention to eligibility criteria and targeting methods used to ensure that the programme does not exclude or disadvantage women. For example, a common problem in non-contributory pension systems is using household targeting methods; as these can put women at a disadvantage by ignoring the fact that women, in particular older women and girls, often receive fewer resources than men and boys regardless of household income.

States must acknowledge that the impacts of social protection programmes are not gender neutral, and accordingly should:

  • Design and implement social protection strategies which recognize the multiple forms of discrimination that women experience, and ensure that programmes address women’s specific needs throughout their life cycle. To this end, before designing a social protection programme, policy makers must conduct a comprehensive and disaggregated gender analysis that assesses the vulnerabilities of both genders as potential beneficiaries.
  • Ensure that social protection programmes respect and acknowledge the role of women as care providers without reinforcing patterns of discrimination and negative stereotyping.
  • Establish accessible, gender-sensitive good quality social services which take into account the obstacles faced by women in accessing such services. At minimum, this requires investment in public services and training for public service providers on culturally appropriate practices and on the specific needs and vulnerabilities of women.
  • Ensure that all social protection programmes are subject to gender-sensitive eligibility criteria which take into account intra-household dynamics and distribution of resources and do not impose requirements that disproportionately disadvantage women.
  • Take all measures necessary to ensure that the social protection interventions mitigate gendered power relations and address the unequal roles both within the household and in the community. Policy makers should ensure the effective participation of women in the administration of social protection programmes by, for example, establishing sex quotas in the governance structures of programmes and ensuring a gender balance at all levels of social protection programmes.
  • Ensure that participation and accountability mechanisms are designed and implemented with gendered power relations in mind in order to facilitate the meaningful participation of women in all programme stages.
  • Programmes should take every opportunity to promote gender equality and facilitate the mobilization of women. Policy makers should invest in capacity-building to ensure that those designing and implementing social programmes at both the national and local levels are aware of gender issues.

 

Photo credit: “Samburu tribe family, near Maralal” by www.j-pics.info (CCBY 2.0 via Flickr).

Expert Commentaries

A Human Rights-Based Approach to Social Protection and the Gender Perspective

Any element of social policy which hopes to be successful needs to take gender equality into account. This is true for social protection systems, and there has been good work done on this, notably by the ILO and others. This consideration of gender-sensitive social protection systems can be taken further by focusing on three key […]

Do Social Protection Programmes That Impose Conditionalities on Women Fail to Confront Patriarchy as a Root Cause of Inequality?

The good and the bad: summarizing the evidence on social protection and gender equality Social protection programmes with conditionalities have undoubtedly connected with issues of women’s rights to equality. Indeed, the achievements of conditional cash transfers are proven and tangible, especially for women and girls, who are disproportionately at risk of poverty. These programmes typically […]

Conditionalities, Cash and Gender Relations

Is the empowerment of women through conditional cash transfers illusory as women are ‘empowered’ by these programmes only as the nodal points receiving cash for the family and not as independent persons with their own economic, social and cultural rights? First, it is important to distinguish between the positive effects of conditional cash transfers and […]

Unpacking the ILO’s Social Protection Floor Recommendation (2012) from a Women’s Rights Perspective

ILO and the right to social security: implicit assumptions about women The twentieth century witnessed the development of national social security and social protection mechanisms aimed at providing economic, social and public answers to address social risks. Social security schemes were based on the assumption that either women were to behave like male workers in […]

Improving Representation in the Design and Implementation of Social Protection Programmes through Women’s Organizations

Markus Kaltenborn, Professor, Public Law and Director of the Institute of Development Research and Development Politics (IEE) at Ruhr University Bochum

Legal Cases

Women’s sexual and reproductive rights in the Philippines

Summary In 1991, the Philippines delegated responsibility for “people’s health and safety” to the local level. In exercise of this power, an executive order 003 (“EO 003”) was issued in Manila, in 2000 which declared that the city would take an “affirmative stand on pro-life issues”. In response to a joint submission from NGOs in […]

Duty to prevent discrimination by private health providers on grounds of gender, race or economic status in Brazil

The communication represented the first instance of maternal mortality to be addressed by the international system of human rights, and examined accountability of health provision, in relation to compounding forms of discrimination. The victim was a poor woman of Afro-Brazilian ethnicity. The ethnic, socio-economic and gender factors were widely recognized to be a factor in […]

Unfair dismissal during protected maternity period in Benin

Consequences of childbirth led to a medical condition that would temporarily prevent rigorous physical activities, and subsequently have implications for the complainant’s work duties upon returning to Plan International Benin after maternity leave, due to the necessity of daily motorcycle travel. During extended maternity leave, she was dismissed on the basis of her health status […]

Relevance of contractual terms to protections for employed women who are pregnant or breastfeeding in Colombia

This case addressed the circumstances of thirty-three women who had been dismissed from various forms of employment on the basis of being pregnant. Article 53 of the Political Constitution of the Republic of Colombia allows for the direct application of international law by domestic legal bodies. Ratified conventions and treaties, as well as domestic provisions […]

Special protection in pension programmes for women in South Africa

Summary: Four male applicants, above the age of 60 but below 65, mounted a constitutional challenge to Section 10 of South Africa’s Social Assistance Act 13 of 2004 and the relevant Regulations, which set the age for accessing an old age grant at 60 for women and 65 for men. The four men contested the […]

Resources

From Policy Commitments to the Effective Implementation of Gender-Sensitive Social Protection Programmes (One-Pager 355)

This brief looks at the factors that need to be considered while designing and implementing gender-sensitive social protection programmes.

Panorama Laboral de América Latina y el Caribe 2015

El Panorama Laboral 2015 de América Latina y el Caribe advierte que se registra un “cambio de tendencia” en los indicadores de empleo, con un deterioro en la situación laboral de las mujeres y los jóvenes e indicios de que podría estar subiendo la informalidad a través de “una mayor generación de empleos de menor […]

WWDA Human Rights Toolkit for Women and Girls with Disability

Over two million women and girls with disability live in Australia – that’s approximately 20 percent of all women and girls. Like everyone else, we all have different lives and experiences. We also have different personal experiences of disability. As a group, however, women and girls with disability experience unfair treatment in many areas of our […]

Women at Work: Trends 2016

This report provides the latest ILO data on women’s position in labour markets, examines the factors behind these trends and explores the policy drivers for transformative change. The report provides a picture of where women stand today in the world of work and how they have progressed over the past 20 years. It examines the […]

Civil Society and Women’s Right to Social Protection

How do conflict, disaster and employment all tie into social protection for women? In this video, Priti Darooka from the Programme on Women’s Economic, Social and Cultural Rights discusses the need for intersectional analysis when talking about universal, rights-based social protection.

Cash transfer programmes, poverty reduction and empowerment of women in South Africa

Cash transfer programmes have been implemented in many countries as a key component of their national social protection floors and because these programmes provide a modest but regular income to poor households, they have the potential to reduce poverty and to enhance women’s economic empowerment. However, there have been concerns that the design of some […]

Making Social Policy Work for Women

Social policy is fundamental to the quest for social justice, women’s rights and gender equality. Defined broadly as a set of public interventions that affect the welfare and well-being of citizens, social policy is typically understood to cover issues such as income security, health, housing and education. It is therefore crucial to the reduction of […]

Progress of the World’s Women: Transforming Economies, Realizing Rights

Twenty years after the landmark Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, and at a time when the global community is defining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the post-2015 era, the international consensus on the need to achieve gender equality seems stronger than ever before. Empowering women and girls is among the goals aspired […]

The Gender Dimensions of Pension Systems: Policies and Constraints for the Protection of Older Women

This paper documents the pervasiveness of women’s lack of income security in old age across a large number of countries, but also points to a number of important policy measures that can be taken to address gender pension gaps. It focuses on how pension systems interact with other social and labour market conditions over women’s […]

How can Social Protection Provide Social Justice for Women?

A feminist social protection programme recognises and enhances women’s identity as citizens and enables them to assume the roles they choose and fulfil the obligations they value. It is an approach that defines, targets and alleviates poverty in accordance with the views, priorities and experiences of the women beneficiaries of social protection programmes. The objective […]