Social protection and women's empowerment

Social protection and women's empowerment

Many social protection programmes, including cash transfers, safety-net oriented public works programmes and asset transfers, target women as main beneficiaries. As such, extending social protection to rural populations has great potential for fostering rural women’s economic empowerment. However, to tap into this potential, more needs to be done. There is much scope for making social protection policies and programmes more gender sensitive and for better aligning them with agricultural and rural development policies to address gender inequalities and foster sustainable poverty reduction.

What does the evidence say? Impact evaluations of cash transfer (CT) programmes indicate these:

  • help promote women’s economic advancement in agriculture, such as in Kenya and Malawi where CT programmes are helping women acquire productive assets such as small livestock
  • help women gain access to both formal and informal credit when they receive benefits in regular payments
  • increase women’s decision-making power and control over income, particularly in managing the extra cash, as shown by evidence from, e.g., Brazil, Mexico, and Kenya, and
  • improve financial literacy among women, as well as their access to financial services, especially when cash transfers are paid into bank accounts
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