New study on gender and social protection in South Asia proposes improvements on public programmes


 IPC-IG Researchers analysed 50 programmes of eight countries in order to investigate if social protection has helped to reduce gender inequality in the region



Brasília, 19 December – A new study in the region of South Asia provides an assessment of non-contributory programmes in order to analyse if they have been designed in a gender-sensitive way. Entitled “Gender and social protection in South Asia: an assessment of non-contributory programmes”, it is written by Raquel Tebaldi and Charlotte Bilo, Researchers of the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG). The study is one of the results of a project developed in a partnership established between the IPC-IG and UNICEF’s Regional Office for South Asia.

Researchers analysed 50 programmes across eight countries in South Asia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Although South Asia inhabitants have witnessed an improvement on human development in the past few years, there are still discriminatory social norms and structural factors that make the lives of women and girls more difficult.

“Programme objectives generally did not include specific gender considerations”, pointed the authors. Besides that, the study also revealed that, in most countries, even when gender is considered, the vulnerable group composed by female adolescents rarely is targeted. Meanwhile, most of the programmes either prioritise women in general, or focus specifically on pregnant women, mothers, widows and single women.

The assessment of South Asian non-contributory programmes led to a variety of conclusions that could improve the quality of the public services offered in the region. Authors point out that improvements can be made on monitoring and evaluation, as well as in social accountability mechanisms and public works programmes, such as equal pay, child care and breastfeed facilities.

Reinforcement of gender roles were also found, such as not involving fathers in child’s nutrition, or assume that mothers should be more engaged in the implementation of school feeding programmes: “The expectation that mothers will provide supervision in programme implementation without compensation puts more pressure on a group that is already overburdened with unpaid care work”, authors affirmed.

Overall, the research shows that social protection programmes could be more gender-sensitive, and that grievance redress mechanisms may not be working properly. As a result, women’s suggestions and complaints are not considered for the improvement of those programmes. Authors suggest that gender assessments should be taken into consideration before designing and implementing programmes.

The study’s Research Report is available in English. The Executive Summary can be found in English and Portuguese, as well as the One Pager, also available in English and Portuguese.