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

Date: 25 April 2014
Author: Markus Kaltenborn

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

The role of women’s organizations

Due to the high relevance of women’s participation for the success of social protection programmes it is, in my view, necessary to give at least the most important women’s organizations of a country a statutory right to take part in the respective processes of legislation and implementation. This means that before new (or revised) social protection programmes are put into place they should be discussed in detail with representatives of these organizations. The public should be informed—ideally via a government website—about the main points of this discussion. If those (parliamentary or administrative) institutions which are in charge of designing the new programme decide not to alter the draft programme according to the proposals of the women’s organizations, they should be obliged to explain the reasons for rejecting the proposals; this justification should also be published in an appropriate way.

Rights can be claimed

The same applies to the main stages of the implementation process. Representatives of the most important women’s organizations need to be informed not only about success stories and the problems of the programme, but also about new stages, new directions and decisions in the implementation process. Here again we need an institutionalized (statutory) participation right, which—should it be necessary—these organizations can then invoke. This certainly might lead, at least to a certain degree, to an increase of bureaucracy in the design and implementation process , but I think that a rights-based approach to social protection needs such obligatory and more or less formalized elements of participation. One can even go further and give women’s organizations a veto power with regard to such procedures, but it is doubtful whether governments would accept granting such extensive competences to civil society representatives.


Markus Kaltenborn teaches Public Law at Ruhr-University Bochum where he is Director of the Institute of Development Research and Development Politics (IEE). He is als a member of the Organization Committee of the German Association of Social Security Law. In recent years he was Visiting Scholar at Fordham University, School of Law (New York), and Visiting Lecturer at the Institute for Social Development of the University of the Western Cape (Cape Town). His main areas of research are health law, social security law, the law of development cooperation and human rights law. Together with Katja Bender and Christian Pfleiderer he is editor of the recently published book “Social Protection in Developing Countries. Reforming Systems” (Routledge 2013). He is currently preparing a study on “Social Rights and International Development. Global Legal Standards for the Post-2015 Development Agenda” , to be published with Springer in 2014.


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Social Protection and Human Rights