Social protection programmes have the potential to facilitate change in gender norms. They channel resources to low-income households, via cash transfers, employment guarantees and insurance against risks. These resources can lead to shifts in gender relations and in gendered norms about appropriate behaviour. For example, they can help normalise girls’ school attendance. However, conditional transfers can also create additional responsibilities such as taking young children for preventative health check-ups, that are often assigned to women and reinforce norms about gender divisions of labour. A new generation of programmes explicitly aims to challenge discriminatory gender norms – for example by making cash transfers conditional on girls staying unmarried until they are at least 18.
ALIGN has developed an annotated bibliography that brings together key resources on social protection and gender norms. The studies outlined discuss how social protection programmes incorporate attention to gender norms, how gender norms affect the operation of social protection programmes and how social protection programmes contribute to gender norm change. We have identified materials with particular insights on the effects on adolescents and young people. These studies point to emerging awareness of the potential of social protection to challenge discriminatory gender norms and the importance of gender-sensitive design to avoid reinforcing such norms.
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