FEEDBACK
Jump to content

Cash transfers for gender equality

South African Rand notesAs the majority of women living in low and middle income countries find themselves in informal employment, the design and implementation of social assistance programmes through cash transfers merit greater attention.

Cash transfers are either available to everyone or targeted at specific populations. There is evidence supporting universal cash transfer schemes rather than income-based targeted schemes as a way to avoid excluding the poorest and most marginalised. Universal cash transfers reinforce the human right to social security; women do not need to prove that they deserve the social grant as it is an entitlement. Means-testing, or income-based targeting, on the other hand, enhances the discretionary power of authorities to determine which women should receive the grant. This could lead to exclusions of women who are seen as transgressing social and gender norms such as unmarried women, widows, single mothers, women living with HIV and AIDS, LBTI women, or sex workers. It may also lead to discrimination of women from racially or ethnically marginalised groups and migrant women. Yet these women are amongst those who are most in need of cash transfers to meet basic needs and may be in the most precarious jobs within the informal sector.

Another concern in the design of cash transfers is whether or not to attach conditionalities. Some programmes require that mothers take their children to regular health checks, attend parenting workshops, and participate in community work. These types of conditionalities can reinforce women’s role as primary caregivers without valuing the time and energy women put towards care. Moreover, it does not encourage fathers to share in the unpaid care and domestic work, thereby maintaining women’s unequal responsibility for these activities even when they are working. There are debates regarding whether conditionalities are even necessary to improve social outcomes. However, if conditionalities are used then they must be designed with a gender and care-sensitive perspective in mind to enable women’s economic empowerment. Social protection policies are care sensitive if they recognise and value care work, and are designed to promote a more equitable distribution of women’s unpaid care and domestic work responsibilities with men and the state.

According to the ILO social protection floors, cash or in kind transfers should be provided across the life cycle including child benefits, income security and non-contributory pensions. Access to one or multiple cash transfers can be transformative for girls, working women and older women in a household, particularly if they are able to control the use of this income. The following resources review a variety of cash transfer programmes and assess their impact on women’s empowerment, children’s education and nutrition and adolescent girls’ and women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. The evidence presented shows that income security and access to training programmes or improved public services can provide new choices for girls, young and older women and break the cycle of poverty and discrimination.

Cash transfers and women’s empowerment

Report on cash transfer programmes (CTPs) from a human rights perspective
M. S. Carmona / United Nations General Assembly 2009
Non-contributory cash transfer programmes (CTPs) provide payments in the form of cash to individuals or households with the key objective of increasing their real income in order to enable a minimum level of consumption within the hou...
Rural development & energy policy: lessons from agricultural mechanisation in South Asia
S. Biggs; S. Justice / Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi 2011
In terms of agricultural and rural mechanisation, a great deal has happened on the ground since the debates of the 1970s. The diversity of South Asia's mechanisation experiences can be used to help policy debates, concerning rural and...
Cash transfer programmes, poverty reduction and empowerment of women in South Africa
S. Plagerson; M. S. Ulriksen / International Labour Organization 2015
This country study of cash transfer programmes, poverty reduction and economic empowerment of women in South Africa forms part of a comparative analysis with Brazil, Chile, India, and Mexico. The report provides an overview of the soc...
Cash transfer programmes, poverty reduction and empowerment of women: a comparative analysis
E. Fultz; J. Francis / International Labour Organization 2013
This working paper is a comparative analysis of selected cash transfer programmes (CTPs) from Brazil, Chile, India, Mexico and South Africa that aims to better understand how to increase the impact of CTPs on women’s poverty all...
Cash for women's empowerment? A mixed-methods evaluation of the government of Zambia's Child Grant Programme
J. Bonilla / UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre 2016
Social cash transfer programmes in developing countries are often claimed to benefit the empowerment of women, despite a lack of clear evidence supporting this outcome. This report seeks to examine the validity of the claim through a ...
Social protection for older persons: Key policy trends and statistics
International Labour Organization 2014
In recent years, many middle-and low-income countries have made great efforts to expand the coverage of contributory pension schemes and to establish non-contributory pensions to guarantee basic income security in old age to all. At t...

Cash transfer programmes and access to education and nutrition

The State of Food and Agriculture: social protection and agriculture: breaking the cycle of rural poverty
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations 2015
This edition of The State of Food and Agriculture 2015 reviews the effectiveness of social protection interventions in reducing poverty, raising food consumption, relieving household food insecurity and hunger, and promoting longer-te...
Social protection programs and early childhood development: unexplored potential
P. Britto; T. Snow; A. Williamson; K. Mankad / Plan International 2013
The rapid growth in social protection programs has been fuelled in part by the promise of its ability to reduce poverty, including emerging findings on improved child health and education outcomes. Early childhood care and development...
Ghana LEAP programme increases schooling outcomes
R. de Groot / UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre 2015
There is a growing body of literature analysing the impacts of social cash transfer programmes (SCT) on schooling. This brief summarizes findings from the impact evaluation of the Ghana Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) pr...
Cash transfers and child nutrition: what we know and what we need to know
R. de Groot; T. Palermo; S. Handa / United Nations Children's Fund 2015
Childhood malnutrition remains a significant global problem with an estimated 162 million children under 5 suffering from stunted growth. Social protection interventions, in particular cash transfer programmes, have the potential to c...
Social protection programmes contribute to HIV prevention
UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre 2015
This brief describes the pathways through which social protection contributes to HIV prevention, particularly in addressing the social, economic and structural drivers of HIV in adolescents. Drawing on evidence from various studies of...
Cash transfers for HIV prevention: considering their potential
L. Heise; B. Lutz; M. Ranganathan; C. Watts / Journal of the International AIDS Society 2013
Cash transfers programmes are increasingly being recognised for their potential to reduce poverty and achieve other social goals, such as improved health and education. Evidence from Malawi and Tanzania suggests that cash transfers ca...
The role of social protection programmes in supporting education in conflict-affected situations
R. Holmes / UNESDOC: Online UNESCO documents 2010
This background paper examines the role of social protection programmes in supporting education in conflict-affected contexts. It looks at the impact, design and implementation issues of social protection programme experience in ...

Cash transfer programmes and sexual and reproductive health and rights

How does a national poverty programme influence sexual debut among Kenyan adolescents?
S. Handa; T. Palermo; M. Rosenberg / Routledge Taylor and Francis Group 2016
Cash transfer programmes have recently emerged as promising interventions for HIV prevention among adolescents in Africa. However, the precise mechanisms through which risk reduction occurs are not well understood. This report seeks t...
Measuring health and well-being of young people in the Transfer Project
T. Palermo / UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre 2015
This policy brief addresses the knowledge gap that exists about the effectiveness of cash transfer programmes to impact young people’s health, development and well-being. The brief maps out a variety of emotional and physical as...
Cash transfers for HIV prevention: considering their potential
L. Heise; B. Lutz; M. Ranganathan; C. Watts / Journal of the International AIDS Society 2013
Cash transfers programmes are increasingly being recognised for their potential to reduce poverty and achieve other social goals, such as improved health and education. Evidence from Malawi and Tanzania suggests that cash transfers ca...
Social protection programmes contribute to HIV prevention
UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre 2015
This brief describes the pathways through which social protection contributes to HIV prevention, particularly in addressing the social, economic and structural drivers of HIV in adolescents. Drawing on evidence from various studies of...