Cash transfers and gender equality

Published on 11 March 2019

At this year’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York, IDS researchers will highlight the limitations of social protection policies such as cash transfers in relation to improving the lives of women across the world.

Integrating social protection policies with public services and infrastructure

They argue that social protection policies can only be truly effective in empowering women and girls when they go hand in hand with adequate public services such as water, sanitation and gas and access to infrastructure including roads, schools and hospitals.

IDS Research Fellow and UN Women Expert Group member Deepta Chopra highlights in her background paper for CSW 2019 that programmes designed to help women back into work will only be able to achieve limited gains if they are not coupled with the holistic support required. She also argues that social protection programmes must recognise the disproportionate burden of unpaid care work that women undertake and avoid reinforcing traditional gender roles.

Recognition of unpaid care work in women’s economic empowerment programmes

The costs of not sufficiently recognising women’s unpaid care work in women’s economic empowerment programmes were  highlighted in findings from the Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women (GrOW) programme.  The report from the programme entitled No Time to Rest was featured on BBC Radio 4 when lead researcher, Deepta Chopra was interviewed on Woman’s Hour.  The report was also accompanied by an animation, Time to Care.

Deepta will be speaking alongside the UK Secretary of State for International Development on a Unicef, Overseas Development Institute (ODI), UKAid and Gender and Adolescence Global Evidence (GAGE) hosted panel discussion around gender- and adolescent-responsive social protection, as well  as at an Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality side event.

Creating social protection programmes that support women and nurture children

IDS researcher Keetie Roelen has also drawn attention to the need for social protection programmes directed at encouraging women back into work to link and be integrated with services such as health, education and child care.  Emerging evidence from her in-depth research in Haiti shows that supporting women to have sustainable livelihoods such as livestock rearing or market trade needs to go hand-in-hand with promoting a nurturing environment for their children to achieve positive impacts all round.

Hear more from Keetie on Universal Child Grants.

Keetie will be speaking at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the Impact Initiative and IDS side event on poverty and employment.

Does poverty stop at employment?

The side event will bring together speakers from the Women’s Equality Party and UNECA, as well as researchers funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Department for International Development (DFID) through the Joint Fund for Poverty Alleviation Research. The event will draw on research and will seek to identify the realities of women, work and social protection. The participants will explore whether the focus of social protection is turning much more towards supporting women getting into employment, rather than keeping out of poverty.

Strengthening women’s empowerment through participation

Research at IDS also underlines the importance of integrating women’s economic empowerment with their political empowerment.  Through a project developed by IDS in collaboration with the Open Society Foundations, researchers at IDS have been working with the Women Headed Household Empowerment Programme (PEKKA).  PEKKA is a network of associations that support over 29,000 rural widows and abandoned and divorced women in savings and loan cooperatives in 900 villages across Indonesia.  The programme supports women to develop skills for democratic decision-making and economic autonomy through their participation in micro lending collectives, group and individual enterprises, as well as enhancing their participation in decision-making processes in the community.

Key contacts

Hannah Corbett

Head of Communications and Engagement

+44 (0)1273 915640


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Programmes and centres
Centre for Social Protection

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