Briefing paper

Social protection and adolescent capabilities: What does a gender norms lens add to the debate?

Author: Nicola Jones , Elizabeth Presler-Marshall
Published by: ALIGN, GAGE
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Gender norms affect adolescents’ opportunities to develop capabilities (skills, resources and agency that allow them to function in ways that they value). This briefing outlines evidence on how far social protection programmes, particularly cash transfers, enable adolescents to develop capabilities across six domains: education, health, bodily integrity and freedom from violence, psychosocial wellbeing, economic empowerment and voice and agency. It discusses the evidence on the role of social protection in contributing to changing gender norms that disempower adolescents across these domains. Overall the briefing finds limited evidence that cash transfers or other social protection instruments contribute significantly to changing gender norms. It argues that to contribute to transforming gender norms, social protection programmes should work more directly with norm-focused programming, such as community norm change interventions for parents, and safe space and masculinities programming for adolescent girls and boys.