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Social Protection: A Key Component for Achieving Gender Equality

Experts to Gather in Florence to Share the Latest Evidence on the Intersection of Gender, Adolescence and Social Protection
03 May 2019

(3 May 2019) International attention towards social protection has increased enormously as governments adopt and invest in more programmes. In fact, more than 3 billion people around the world today are covered by at least one social protection benefit. Despite the pervasiveness of social protection, and its potential to provide income security and resilience against shocks, one vital component is often missing in its design and implementation—gender dynamics. This has led to gaps in our understanding on how different social protection programmes and features, contribute to foster positive gender outcomes.

Adolescent girls and boys who benefit from social protection programmes in the Mbeya region of Tanzania take part in livelihood and life skills training provided by village mentors.

As global attention turns towards social protection, there is a concurrent emphasis on adolescence as a critical opportunity to fast-track social change. Adopting a life cycle lens to social protection, with a focus on adolescents in particular, is important for multiple reasons. Firstly, adolescence is a period of rapid biological change, in which young people experience puberty, brains change rapidly, and gender differences emerge. Secondly, adolescents are a growing demographic group, with the global population of adolescents and young people expected to reach 2 billion by 2030.

Despite the importance of both gender and age in order to achieve social change, there is little evidence on how social protection systems and programmes can be more gender-responsive, as well as sensitive to different age groups’ specific risks and vulnerabilities. To identify and address these gaps in our knowledge, 35 experts from the fields of academia, practice, and programming will gather at UNICEF’s Office of Research in Florence on the 6th of May for an experts’ workshop on gender-responsive and age-sensitive social protection. The event will discuss the evidence base on gender, adolescence and social protection, and create linkages between evidence, policy and programming actors. A series of think pieces by key experts in the fields of gender and social protection, commissioned by UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, will also be presented at the workshop.

Bodoor, a 17 year old 12th grade student in Azraq Refugee Camp, with her friends at her UNICEF-supported school. She is preparing for her final exams. She and her family, including two sisters and three brothers, have lived in Azraq since it opened in 2014.

A keynote address from Charlotte Watts, the Chief Scientific Adviser at the UK’s Department for International Development, will set the tone for the workshop. Following this, discussions throughout the day will identify where the evidence base is robust and where there are evidence gaps that need investments. Panel discussions will explore:

  • How a life course lens is critical for effective and efficient social protection systems, including for adolescents;
  • How social protection programmes and strategies have – or have not – considered gender dynamics in their design and implementation;
  • Design and implementation considerations in gender-responsive social protection;
  • Social protection in the context of humanitarian, climate change, and complex crises.

This experts’ workshop is part of the DFID-funded programme on gender-responsive age-sensitive social protection. The think piece series, which discusses the intersection of these three important areas, will be published on the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti website in the coming weeks.

Check out UNICEF Innocenti’s Twitter for live updates throughout the workshop.