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Gender-responsive and age-sensitive social protection

Gender-responsive and age-sensitive social protection

Gender and age play a disproportionately large role in how people experience risks, vulnerabilities, and opportunities. Entrenched gender inequalities and norms drive differences in women and men’s lives and their well-being. Events at different stages in life, like marriage, childbearing or retirement, also produce distinct risks and vulnerabilities for women and girls. The intersection of gender inequalities and norms with ages and stages in the life course mean women and girls are at a heightened risk of poverty.

Social protection, such as cash transfers or health insurance, can help address poverty and vulnerability, as well as supporting people during shocks from childhood through to old age. Despite the benefits of social protection systems, many fail to address gender- and life course-related vulnerabilities and inequalities, limiting its potential for poverty reduction.

To understand how these vulnerabilities and inequalities can be prevented and addressed, UNICEF Office of Research—Innocenti is engaged in a five-year research programme (2018-2023) called Gender-Responsive and Age-Sensitive Social Protection (GRASSP), generously funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and other partners. The research programme will examine how gender-responsive and age-sensitive social protection can sustainably reduce poverty and achieve gender equality.

Publications

Social Protection and Its Effects on Gender Equality: A literature review
Publication Publication

Social Protection and Its Effects on Gender Equality: A literature review

Globally, progress has been made in the fight against both poverty and gender inequality, including through the expansion of social protection programmes. Yet significant gaps remain. Many women and girls remain in poverty and often face different structural constraints and risks across their life course, related to their biological sex as well as entrenched gender norms that discriminate against them in many aspects of their lives. As poverty, risks and vulnerabilities – which social protection aims to minimize, reduce or tackle – are gendered, if the root causes of gender inequality are not investigated in evidence generation and addressed in policy and practice, poverty will not be sustainably eradicated, nor gender equality achieved. This paper provides an overview of the latest evidence on the effects of social protection on gender equality. It starts by considering how risks and vulnerabilities are gendered, and the implications of their gendered nature for boys’ and girls’, and men’s and women’s well-being throughout the life course. It then reviews and discusses the evidence on the design features of four types of social protection programmes – non-contributory programmes, contributory programmes, labour market programmes, and social care services – and their effects on gender equality, unpacking which design features matter the most to achieve gender equality. Finally, the paper concludes with implications for a future research agenda on gender and social protection.
Gender-Responsive Age-Sensitive Social Protection: A conceptual framework
Publication Publication

Gender-Responsive Age-Sensitive Social Protection: A conceptual framework

Childcare in a Global Crisis: The Impact of COVID-19 on work and family life
Publication Publication

Childcare in a Global Crisis: The Impact of COVID-19 on work and family life

News & Commentary

Adolescence: policy opportunities and challenges
Article Article

Adolescence: policy opportunities and challenges

Disclaimer: The views expressed within this Think Piece are those of the author(s)and do not necessarily represent the views of UNICEF. This Think Piece has not been edited to official publication standards and UNICEF accepts no responsibility for errors.Maxine Molyneux, University College LondonThe increased attention devoted to adolescents in global policy is timely and welcome. When not neglected altogether, adolescent’s needs are typically subsumed within policy briefs on children or adults, or narrowly focused on tackling particular social problems that young people are seen to be uniquely responsible for.It is a truism that young people hold the future prospects of a country in their hands. Yet they have often been denied a real chance to contribute to it, let down by poor secondary education, lack of training and labour market opportunities. Economic downturns and austerity policies exacerbate these effects, pushing up youth unemployment, migration and casualisation, and cutting short education. The 2008 economic crisis affected young people more than adults with lasting effects: in Latin America the youth unemployment rate (those aged 15–24 years) had reached nearly 20% by 2016 leaving one in every five young people unemployed (ILO, 2017).  Deepening inequality and economic hardship impacts on communities, driving the narcotics economy, crime and insecurity, and increasing the risks to which young people are vulnerable.  If policy responses have been disappointing--slow, partial and sometimes harshly repressive--there is every reason to hope for more positive approaches in countries where adolescents form a sizeable part of their populations. Today’s cohort of young people is the largest in history and 90% of those aged 10–24 years live in low- and middle-income countries. Governments often speak of ‘investing in youth’ as the key to future development, and  vocational training and apprenticeships for unemployed youth are rising up the policy agenda.  Mexico’s  programme ‘Young People - Building a Future’ is a case in point.  Less positively, there is growing concern about youth disaffection with ‘politics as usual’, political extremism, and rising youth crime. All these are factors which indicate the need for more adequate, inclusive approaches and joined-up policymaking and practice. How governments address these issues, how they engage with their young people, and what policies are or are not adopted, reveals much about the deep divisions in and between contemporary societies. There can be little doubt that whatever policies are pursued, they will have long lasting effects that will shape the fortunes of the countries concerned.A time of changeWe know that adolescence is a critical phase due to the biological, mental, and cultural adaptations that need to be made in the transition to adulthood.  Adolescence is a time of sexual and relationship experimentation and of identity formation, when social norms, both good and bad, can play a crucial role in setting behavioural patterns. Social change can generate tensions between generations, and between rural and urban populations over what is considered appropriate conduct. Caught amidst changing and conflicting norms and behaviours, vulnerable young people who cross the accepted lines can be harshly affected by discrimination and punished by repressive laws if they transgress the gender norms of their community or country. Same sex relationships in hostile contexts can bring heavy penalties and shame to LGBT+ children, along with high rates of mental illness, suicide, and self-harm. Sometimes government policies lag behind social attitudes: in the Caribbean, same sex relationships, previously viewed as unacceptable, have seen majority attitudes shift in favour of more liberal laws. As norms change and diversify, mixed messages can be confusing especially in matters of sexual conduct, and as old norms erode, attention must be paid to how to embed positive new norms to help young people safely navigate their transitions to adulthood. Education plays a critical role here, but so too can other areas of social policy, such as health services and social protection programmes which are targeted at the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.  If a mixed picture emerges with regard to social norms, we are nonetheless seeing evidence that societal and parental attitudes seem to be slowly changing for the better. Human rights frameworks, when embedded in national law and institutions, have played a key role in setting positive norms as well as establishing rights which have been critical for girls and women, as they have for LBGT+ people and other discriminated populations. While much remains to be done to secure these rights for all, and in some cases to defend them against those who oppose them, they have helped to promote important attitudinal and behavioural changes that provide young people with some protections. With respect to gender, globally there has been some progress in tackling the harms of non-recognition that arise from gender inequalities, including the everyday denigration of girls and women, their limited opportunities and exclusion from many areas of work. Parents today are often more aware of the benefits of educating girls for future employment. Yet, where gender norms continue to stress early marriage and downplay the importance for girls of taking up rewarding work, there is all too often a failure to offer girls the same training opportunities open to boys. This is a missed opportunity. In a world where knowledge of basic computing skills is essential, and new jobs and educational opportunities are opened up in technology and science, girls can lose out if they are channelled into ‘female occupations’, whether old-style handicrafts or micro-enterprises based on their supposedly natural domestic skills. The gender gap in IT skills remains far too wide, and it is still the case that in many regions, business and management training, engineering, and skilled crafts are all occupations which tend to be overwhelmingly male. Imaginative approaches to closing the gender gap in these and other occupations can help to challenge rigid and disabling gender norms while at the same time securing more stable economic futures for young women. That said, we have seen in recent decades real efforts on the part of NGOs and other development actors directed at changing girls and women’s attitudes, with some notable successes. However, far fewer interventions have involved boys and young men. There is a need for greater understanding that boys also need attention and support, with targeted services not only to address their needs but critically, to encourage new ways of thinking. Challenging boys’ more negative attitudes about girls and women and encouraging them to see the benefits of more equal partnerships across the gender divides is the natural counterpart to interventions targeted at female empowerment.This involves understanding some of the problems faced by adolescent boys. While one of the positive changes that has occurred worldwide is the closing, or at least the narrowing, of the gender gaps in primary and secondary school enrolment, the less positive development is that boys are falling behind, especially in low income households.  As a result, many boys drop out early to earn money in low paid sectors of the economy with few prospects. Furthermore, marginal and poor young men are often stigmatised and have difficulties accessing services. Yet, tackling gender inequality and the negative social norms that help to sustain it, must include boys and young men. Gender is necessarily relational, to focus on one group and exclude the other is, in policy terms, like one hand clapping. On freedom and ProtectionAdolescence is a transitional stage on the way to adulthood and a balance has to be struck between enabling new freedoms and ensuring protections from harms. This basic point is illustrated by the increasing access to the internet, with children making up 1 in 3 internet users today. For all its positive aspects in terms of social networking, learning, and ease of communication, it also has a dark side which can constitute a threat to young people, whether through too early sexualisation and acquaintance with pornography, or exposure to sexual predators and traffickers.  Internet usage can widen the generational gap and at the same time weakens parental control over what children can be exposed to. A growing consensus is calling for greater regulation to protect young users from harms, and we may see change in this area soon. In the meantime, however, although children and young people need to be given adequate protections where possible, the internet remains an important and necessary part of their lives. The balance between freedom and protection is perhaps most evident in respect of sexual and reproductive health, where an absence of appropriate measures can lead to life-changing circumstances whether through unwanted pregnancies or STDs.  HIV/AIDS is the second most common cause of death among adolescents globally. Preventive services and gender equality values have come under attack in Latin America and elsewhere as neo-conservative religious movements have been gaining traction in recent years, with the aim of reversing existing policies on sex education and reproductive rights.  Moral panics over social problems involving young people have led to the adoption of harsher policies and penalties which only create further problems. Governments, for instance, worry about rising numbers of teenage mothers, yet some adopt policies that only exacerbate the problem, banning sex education in school, restricting reproductive rights and access to the services that young people desperately need if they are to avoid early pregnancy and health risks. Ending sex education and closing SRH services does not alter behaviour or stop young people from having sex, it only stops them from taking safe precautions. The result is that desperate young people seek help through unsafe underground means.  These outdated attitudes and policies need tackling through education and public media, while governments and churches need to be made aware of the harms incurred by these measures and encouraged to observe the human rights protocols that countries have signed up to. One important point to note on sex or relationship education (as it is increasingly being seen), is that this only works well when developed with young people’s input into what is taught, and includes discussion of positive values and norms in its brief. Listen to adolescentsIndeed, some of these policy gaps and policy failures are due to the fact that young people lack voice and representation in decision-making settings of all kinds. While they will face the consequences of decisions and non-decisions of policymakers, they are all too rarely consulted about the issues that affect them, the environment being a particularly stark example. In this and many other areas, the continuing toll of inaction in addressing young people’s needs and aspirations only deepens the sense of disappointment, alienation, and frustration that many feel. It is hardly surprising that young people have been taking to the streets in numbers in many different parts of the world to demand more policy action on environmental issues, and on government corruption, while women and young men have repeatedly protested against sexual violence and demanded their reproductive rights. While this activism is welcome, it clearly indicates the need for more inclusive approaches, including more consultation with, and representation of, young people in the policy debates of our times, engaging more directly with their aspirations and needs. Young people’s energy and creativity should be celebrated and encouraged, and seen as the key to transformative change.If policymakers have begun to focus on young people, we need to ask them: are they addressing the problems faced by adolescents and what are the lessons learned so far?  Research is sparse but it is at last under way and accumulating, though more is needed, as is disaggregated age and sex data. New research builds on the greater awareness of changing life cycle needs and shows that well designed interventions to help adolescents at this critical time of their lives can have major positive impacts, mitigating the risks they face and at the same time enhancing their life chances. It also shows the need for a more holistic and positive approach to adolescence, one that does not demonise the young, that listens to their needs, encourages their participation in public life, and develops integrated policy interventions into a workable joined-up set of approaches. We are far from being there yet.How can social protection be more responsive to adolescent needs?Social protection is an essential building block for households from which adolescent members can benefit in the following ways:1. Cash transfers (CTs) reduce household poverty which in turn leads to:Increased household consumption and nutritionReduced child labour Increased school enrolment and attendance Increased confidence and self-esteem among recipients  2. Going FurtherWhere social protection programmes have clear social equality goals and are accompanied by relevant services, the chance of more significant changes, especially for the most vulnerable (girls, women, disabled, sexual, ethnic and religious minorities,) is greater.Empowering women has a positive effect on children, including creating positive role models and changing attitudes towards girls and women by men.3. Cash transfers could do more:Include adolescents in CT programme activities and services where appropriate:Allow them access to health services. These are vital for adolescents but few clinics that service mothers and babies are open to adolescents and there are almost no services for mental health, which can be a major problem among  young people.Offer training/skills and (if needed) literacy sessionsInclude adolescents in parenting, child health, gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health and relationship sessionsEnsure that programme design does not reinforce unequal gender roles in the household. Changing parents’ behaviours and attitudes sends important messages to childrenAvoid treating mothers and daughters as exclusively responsible for caring, by eg. imposing heavy conditionalities, and excluding men from parenting/child health sessions. Collect sex and age disaggregated data on recipients4. Transformative interventions for adolescents:Cash transfers can promote positive values and incentives to bring about changes in norms and behaviour by:Providing extra cash incentives for families with girls to boost school attendance Allowing any conditionalities to be carried out by male members in the household.Complementary services, like skills training, should provide imaginative, gender equal, and transformational skills to programme beneficiaries, including use of ICT and financial competence.Affordable, free childcare can allow daughters, as well as mothers, to access income or skill generating activities.Creating effective feedback, participation, and consultation mechanisms for adolescents, and including them in social accountability exercises.Working with boys, men and parents to change attitudes and tackle ‘dysfunctional masculinity’. In Kenya, ‘no means no’ consent classes reduced rape by 50%.Support families to change attitudes eg the Adolescent Girls Empowerment programme in Zambia works through inclusive community-based programmes.Working with ICT to reduce risks and enhance opportunities for young people. Boys only and girls only clubs or spaces allow discussion of difficult issues they are facing, including GBV, FGM, STDs, HIV, and substance abuse risks.5. Policymaking:Strengthen policy and programme focus on adolescents Policies must be gender-focused and pro-equalityIdentify clear context-based priorities Provide adolescents with voice and representation in policy processes and at project levelImprove data collection on adolescents disaggregated by sexPolicies need to be joined up, cross ministry, particularly in education and healthDownload the bibliography#page-article-other .items h4.related-title { font-family: futura-pt-condensed,sans-serif; text-transform: uppercase; font-size: 150%; font-weight: medium; padding: 0; margin: 0; clear: both; color: #1CABE2; margin-bottom: 20px; visibility: hidden; position: relative; } h4.related-title:after { visibility: visible; position: absolute; content: "THINK PIECES"; top: 0; left: 0; }
Gender and social protection in South Asia. An assessment of non-contributory programmes
Article Article

Gender and social protection in South Asia. An assessment of non-contributory programmes

Disclaimer: The views expressed within this Think Piece are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of UNICEF. This Think Piece has not been edited to official publication standards and UNICEF accepts no responsibility for errors.Raquel Tebaldi and Charlotte Bilo, International Policy Centre for Inclusive GrowthSocial protection has received increased attention as a measure to reduce poverty and vulnerability and achieve social transformation, including the reduction of gender inequality. As put forward by the Social Protection Inter-Agency Cooperation Board (SPIAC-B), in order to contribute to gender equality, social protection systems should address life cycle risks, increase access to services and sustainable infrastructure, and promote women’s and girls’ economic empowerment, voice, and agency.Although South Asia has made remarkable progress in terms of human development in recent years, the region still faces significant gender disparities. Discriminatory social norms and structural factors result in a neglect of girls and women’s rights throughout all areas of life. As a consequence, girls and women continue to face serious challenges in terms of health, nutrition, education and employment. Harmful gender norms also manifest themselves in women’s risk to early and forced marriage and gender-based violence. Therefore, social protection systems that respond to these risks are of utmost importance in the region.Against this background, the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG) and UNICEF’s Regional Office for South Asia have partnered to analyse the extent to which South Asia’s non-contributory social protection programmes have been designed in a gender-sensitive way. A total of 50 programmes were analysed across the eight countries in the region: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. In addition, the aim of the research was to review the evidence regarding the programmes’ impact on gender outcomes and norms. This think piece is based on the report ‘Gender and social protection in South Asia: an assessment of the design of non-contributory programmes’ and summarises its main findings. Methodology The assessment of the programmes’ design features was based on information publicly available in English, including government websites, programme manuals, and reports published by third parties. For the criteria it was drawn on the most up-to-date toolkits and guidelines produced by international organisations, such as FAO, UN Women, ODI, and the IPC-IG. The following questions were addressed for each individual programme: Are gender equality issues or awareness of gender-based vulnerabilities reflected in the programme’s objectives? If yes, which? Are gender- and age-specific vulnerabilities taken into account in the targeting process? Have specific outreach and/or communication activities been conducted to reach particularly vulnerable groups and inform citizens about the programme? Which delivery mechanisms are used? Are complementary services (related to health, education or nutrition) or trainings offered?Does the programme collect gender-disaggregated data (e.g. number of male/female beneficiaries)?Are gender-related outcomes evaluated by the programme?  Does the programme rely on community monitoring or social audits?Is a grievance redress mechanism available?For cash transfer programmes:Are conditionalities part of the programme? If yes, which and are there any attempts made to avoid possible negative impacts of conditionalities (e.g. through the use of soft conditionalities)? Who is the main benefit recipient (mother, head of household, guardian/caregiver)? For public works programmes:Are quotas for women’s participation used? Is the allocation of less physically intense tasks possible for women or for vulnerable groups?Are childcare and/or breastfeeding facilities and breaks or flexible work hours offered?Are there provisions for equal pay?Are there incentives for women to take on leadership roles?Do women participate in the decision over community assets to be built, or is there a prioritisation of assets that directly meet their needs?For school feeding programmes:Are incentives provided for girls’ participation (e.g. take-home ratios for girls)?Are women involved in the programme? If yes, how (e.g. as cookers)?In some cases, these criteria could not be assessed due to lack of information, constituting an important limitation. Another limitation of this research is that only documents in English were reviewed, yet important documents, such as programme manuals, are often only available in the country’s official languages. Lastly, this research is limited to the programmes’ design and does not include an evaluation of their implementation.The review of the programmes’ gender-related impacts was restricted to experimental and quasi-experimental impact evaluations with gender-disaggregated results and/or with specific analysis of gender-related outcomes, including indicators related to health, education, and empowerment, as well as gender norms. The search was conducted within three weeks (between 22 January and 12 February 2019) using Google Scholar, as well as PEP and 3IE databases.Key findingsProgramme objectives generally did not include specific gender considerations. Where they did, they are commonly related to barriers to education, maternity health, income-related risks, or the vulnerabilities of single and widowed women. However, only limited evidence of significant follow-up on progress in these areas was found in the monitoring and evaluation mechanisms of these programmes.Most countries have programmes that either target or prioritise women in general (including female-headed households), or pregnant women, mothers, widows and single women specifically. Few programmes were found to explicitly target adolescent girls, presenting a major gap given the particular vulnerabilities of this group. Some programmes were also found to have provisions for outreach and communication activities. Nonetheless, the assessment showed that there are still significant barriers to be addressed in people’s awareness of their right to social protection. Moreover, a variety of payment mechanisms is used to deliver social protection benefits in the region, including banks, mobile payments and post offices. Existing assessments have shown that multi-layer and complex payment mechanisms can often increase women’s time burden. It is therefore important to carry out more in-depth assessments in order to understand the difficulties that beneficiaries may have in accessing their benefits. In some cases, complementary measures, such as financial literacy training, can present a good option to address existing challenges.Where policies and programmes remain confined in their own sectors, there might be missed opportunities to address gender-based vulnerabilities. Regarding the provision of complementary services, it is important not to reinforce gender roles through them by also including fathers in activities related to child nutrition awareness, for instance. This has rarely been found to be the case in South Asia. Moreover, training in productive activities and skills development can be strengthened in order to promote women’s participation in the labour market. However, the assessment has also shown that it is important that these are adapted to the local context and beneficiaries’ needs. Though most programmes were found to provide gender-disaggregated information on beneficiaries, monitoring and evaluation needs to be strengthened in order to understand the impact (whether positive or negative) that programmes have on gender outcomes, not only in terms of health, education, and nutrition, but also in terms of women’s empowerment and gender norms. Social accountability mechanisms, including social audits, community monitoring, and grievance redressal mechanisms also need to be improved, as there were many reports of malfunctioning. Moreover, little evidence was found on how complaints and suggestions actually feed back into programme reform, highlighting another important gap.Looking specifically at cash transfers, it can be observed that many programmes are focused on maternity-related outcomes. The assessment showed that programmes that require pregnant women to have institutional deliveries can be more gender-sensitive if they incorporate the costs associated with transportation and also provide flexibility in terms of women’s choice to deliver at home, particularly where accessing the appropriate services might be too expensive or put women’s safety at risk. Moreover, it is important that these programmes are accompanied by robust grievance redressal systems that can capture women’s complaints and feed them back into the supply side. In terms of public works programmes, much more can be done in order to ensure women’s participation in more equal terms. Quotas for women and vulnerable groups, provisions for equal wages, childcare, breastfeeding facilities and breaks, as well as flexible working hours are all measures that can be strengthened. Moreover, incentives for women to take on leadership roles and for women’s participation in the decision-making process regarding the building of community assets can also promote more positive gender outcomes.School feeding programmes need to become more accountable in terms of women’s involvement in programme implementation. In the case of India, women were found to be the majority of cookers engaged in the programme (which was also established by design), but their work conditions are rather precarious. Moreover, the expectation that mothers will provide supervision in programme implementation without compensation risks putting more pressure on a group that is already overburdened with unpaid care work.The review of impact evaluations, though with mixed impacts for several outcomes, has also demonstrated the potential for significant impacts in terms of gender equality of social protection programmes. Maternal health is an area where demand-side programmes have shown to increase service utilisation, however service quality also needs to be improved. Regarding food security, nutrition, education, and employment, findings point to rather heterogeneous impacts, which vary a lot depending on age and gender. It is important to ensure that the lessons learned from the growing body of evidence feeds back into programme design and implementation. Furthermore, very few studies looked specifically at programmes’ impacts on gender norms and attitudes, however, there is some promising evidence from Afghanistan and Pakistan. The inclusion of more qualitative evidence can help to gain a more nuanced understanding of how gender inequalities play out in different contexts.ConclusionGender disparities remain high in the South Asia region, yet at the same time there is a growing recognition of the potential of social protection programmes, including for women’s empowerment. The research conducted has shown that despite some positive examples, governments in the region still have to invest significantly in order to make their social protection systems more gender-sensitive, and in turn advance gender equality in the region. One of the key gaps identified relates to the lack of comprehensive grievance and complaints mechanisms, limiting women’s ability to make their voices heard and the possibilities of improving the programme. Another key gap relates to programmes' monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, which rarely focus on gender outcomes. The review has also shown the importance of conducting gender assessments prior to implementation, as they can be key in making social protection programmes more gender-sensitive by taking context specific vulnerabilities and needs into account. Finally, while the design of programmes is the first step to make programmes more gender-sensitive, their implementation is likewise crucial. Therefore, more assessments should focus on programme implementation, which will be key for identifying gaps and informing policy reform.Download the bibliographyBased on Gender and social protection in South Asia: an assessment of the design of non-contributory programmes by the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG) and UNICEF’s Regional Office for South Asia.#page-article-other .items h4.related-title { font-family: futura-pt-condensed,sans-serif; text-transform: uppercase; font-size: 150%; font-weight: medium; padding: 0; margin: 0; clear: both; color: #1CABE2; margin-bottom: 20px; visibility: hidden; position: relative; } h4.related-title:after { visibility: visible; position: absolute; content: "THINK PIECES"; top: 0; left: 0; }
The transformative potential of social protection public works to empower adolescent girls and young women
Article Article

The transformative potential of social protection public works to empower adolescent girls and young women

Disclaimer: The views expressed within this Think Piece are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of UNICEF. This Think Piece has not been edited to official publication standards and UNICEF accepts no responsibility for errors.Emmeline Skinner and Benjamin Zeitlyn, Department for International DevelopmentYoung women and adolescent girls are often overlooked by public works programmes, despite clear evidence on the critical importance of adolescence within the life course, with regard to vulnerability, nutrition, reproductive health, and transition to the labour market. Adolescence has also been shown to be a critical juncture in people’s lives, at which decisions made and paths taken can have a profound effect on outcomes in adult life and the lives of the next generation. This paper explores the potential for public works programmes to address some of these challenges in terms of targeting older adolescent girls and young women with gender-sensitive approaches that have the potential not only to meet their immediate needs, but also provide them with skills and experience to support their transition into the labour market and promote economic empowerment. Poverty and Youth Employment in MozambiqueMozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranked 180 out of 188 in the 2018 Human Development Index. GDP per capita is only $426, and some 63% of the population live below the international poverty line of $1.90 per day, whilst 46% fall below the national poverty line. With a population of almost 30 million, 66% are under the age of 24, and 22% are between the ages of 15 and 24 (and the focus of this paper). At present, approximately 35% of the population live in urban areas, although this is set to rise considerably over the next decade as urbanisation trends continue, so that by 2040 there will be more people living in urban than rural areas of Mozambique. Despite the discovery of immense gas reserves in 2010, and a short burst of economic growth based on optimistic forecasts, there has been little job creation in Mozambique and young people are growing up in a context in which 80% of employment is informal. Research carried out by the DFID funded MUVA programme in Maputo and Beira showed that as few as 18% of young people are in any form of waged employment and only 4% have a formal contract. Social Protection in MozambiqueSocial Protection is a central pillar of Mozambique’s poverty reduction strategy and benefits from strong Government commitment. In 2018, 71% of the budget for social protection came from the state budget, up from 62% in 2008. In recent years, despite economic problems, social protection budgets have been protected and have even seen modest increases. Social protection in Mozambique is managed by The National Institute of Social Action (INAS), which is part of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Action (MGCAS). INAS implements three cash transfer programmes that are part of the National Basic Social Security Strategy (ENSSB2). These are i) a basic programme (PSSB) covering about 370,000 households targeting poor and vulnerable older people, people with disabilities, chronically sick and vulnerable children; (ii) a public works programme (PASP); and (iii) the Direct Social Support Programme (PASD) which has two components, one providing in-kind support and a second focused on post-Emergency Cash Transfers (PASD-PE). In addition, the Programme of Social Services for Social Action (PSSAS) provides support through social work and institutions (e.g. elderly centres, day care centres). Total coverage of all social protection programmes in 2017 was 470,786 direct beneficiaries or households. If we assume that each household has an average of five people in it, the programmes together benefit almost 2.4 million people. This is less than 20% of the number of poor people in Mozambique, which is over 13 million people. Mozambique Social Protection Coverage 2017The ‘Programa de Acção Social Produtiva’ (PASP) is a public works programme, in which participants work for four days a week, for four hours a day, for four months a year (six in urban areas). The timing of this should link to seasons when there is no agricultural work. Participants receive a monthly allowance of 1050 MT ($17). PASP has been supported by a loan from the World Bank, but delivered by INAS. The programme has suffered from delays and a range of problems. Many of these problems originate from the overambitious design and expansion plan, the radical changes to INAS’s existing ways of delivery that PASP entailed, and political resistance to some of these changes. PASP participants do a range of types of work, but many of these have not been very ‘productive’ or led to the construction of useful assets. The programme has not effectively designed and delivered the component that is supposed to develop skills or provide work experience that enables participants to find employment. Work is short-term, low paid and provides only temporary income rather than facilitating long-term job creation or sustainable exits from poverty. Targeting has been an issue. The World Bank approach of using a poverty means test (PMT), means that the programme targets the poorest households, but the process is slow and unpopular with government. The way that the PMT assesses households using data on the head of the household overlooks the existence and status of adolescents within the household.  PASP has been ineffective at targeting and including youth (with public works generally targeting household heads/spouses rather than young people). This is because PASP public works have tended to be low status, low skill, and unattractive jobs that rarely appeal to young people. Middle-aged women make up the majority of PASP participants, but the programme is not particularly gender-sensitive nor leads to women’s economic empowerment, and so fails to address power dynamics or have any real transformative effect on gender relations. Finally, INAS has not had the capacity to manage a complex public works programme. PASP has a constant churn of beneficiaries, payments, procurement and management of equipment, delivery of public works, and skills training. INAS has neither the capacity in-house, nor the partnerships with other public or private institutions at local level, to deliver this range of activities. A new approach to Public WorksMUVA, a DFID-funded programme which tests innovative approaches to promoting economic empowerment of young women and adolescent girls, is piloting a different kind of public works that offers the potential to facilitate adolescent girls’ and young women’s entry into the labour market. The project, called MUVA Assistentes (see explanation box) responds to some of the problems with PASP. It shifts the way we conceptualise public works; away from short-term temporary employment towards a form of internship or apprenticeship that provides young women with an income, and gives them the skills and experience that can improve their opportunities to find employment in the future. It also changes how we measure the outputs of public works, away from the creation or maintenance of physical public assets and infrastructure, and towards a focus on the delivery of basic services that meet young women’s needs. In this example, the model delivers teaching assistance in over-crowded classrooms, thereby improving the learning environment for both girls and boys, but also addressing a gender imbalance in schools, where the majority of teachers are male and where sexual harassment is commonplace. In addition to building the skills and experience of adolescent girls and young women in a way that prepares them better for future employment, this model also has the potential to prepare a pipeline of experienced (female) employees to work as public officials in service delivery in the future. The MUVA Assistentes ModelTargets adolescent girls and young women (aged 18-25) from poor households in low income urban neighbourhoods who have completed 10th grade of school. Provides participants with an intensive 4-week training course, followed by a year of paid work experience as part-time teaching assistants (4 hours per day) in over-crowded primary school classrooms. Teaching assistants work alongside professional teachers, supporting them in the classroom and with correction of homework, earning a stipend of $32 per month. Following a year of experience, girls are better equipped to find employment. Addresses the three priorities of: poverty reduction (and graduation from poverty); youth skills and employment; and improvement of primary education experience. Holds the potential to provide a pipeline of experienced young women to work in public sector service delivery roles (teaching and other professions) in the future. Preliminary Results of MUVA Assistentes: Cash transfer offers the first form of income for most girls, with financial inclusion rising from 27% to 96% as girls opened bank accounts to save their cash. Significant improvement in the learning environment and the relationship between the pupils and the adults in the classroom (both assistant and teacher). Significant impact in terms of “soft skills” and employability skills (i.e. body language, confidence when speaking and expression, logical argumentation). 96% of participants have a clear professional aim they are now working towards. For more information see a short video on how the model works. Two cycles of the MUVA Assistentes model have already been tested out in Maputo, reaching over 180 young women and a third and final cycle of the project is now underway. The project is now active in 15 inner city schools covering a total of 200 classrooms, and an estimated 10,000 pupils.  MUVA has successfully influenced the National Social Assistance Institute (INAS) to pilot the Assistentes approach as part of the government’s programme for social protection national social protection programme and 100 assistants are currently being employed as part of the World Bank funded Productive Social Action Programme (PASP). In 2020, INAS will assess the initiative and, if deemed successful, will add the approach to their portfolio of social transfers, thereby guaranteeing the continuation and expansion of the initiative both in Maputo and nationally. Simultaneously, a scoping study is underway to explore different options that could be piloted under a similar model, involving partnerships with municipalities or public service delivery agencies. These could include the employment of young women in urban development and the creation of green spaces, the monitoring and maintenance of water delivery services, the monitoring and maintenance of electric services, the delivery of home-based care or health campaigns, provision of early childhood care or after-school care, food-handling for school nutrition programmes, sports coaching, community services, crime prevention, etc.    Challenges of the MUVA Public Works Plus ModelScaling up MUVA Assistentes through PASP has revealed a number of challenges. One of these is how to shift from household-based targeting to an approach that identifies vulnerable adolescent girls and young women within eligible households.  There were some concerns that finding a sufficient number of adequately educated young women amongst the poorest households would be impossible, yet analysis of poverty data showed that as many as 76% of households in the poorest quintile have an adolescent girl in secondary school, while 83% of those in the second poorest quintile do, indicating that there is no shortage of educated young women in extreme poor households who would be eligible for public work. Another challenge is to maintain quality when going to scale, with existing public works programmes tending to prioritise coverage and numbers, rather than focusing on quality of employment or training and skills provided. Linked to this is the challenge of the cost of training and the slightly higher stipend offered (in order to make the work attractive and appealing to young people). Currently as many as 70% of PASP beneficiaries are female, but this tends to reflect the low wage and lack of other opportunities for poor women and the fact that men are not drawn to (or can find alternatives to) such low paid work. Another issue which needs to be considered in the implementation of these more complex public works is that of institutional ownership and management, particularly where partnerships are required with other public entities (such as municipalities or local schools, as is the case with MUVA Assistentes). There are still issues that need to be resolved with regard to who delivers and covers the costs of the training, as well as who manages participants in these different types of employment. Finally, it is important to be aware of the political economy challenges in implementing these cross-sectoral types of public works, in terms of the need for co-ordination across ministries and sectors (and budget-sharing), which is not always easy to manage in the case where social protection falls under one ministry, but the sectors in which the public works take place falls under another. Given all these challenges, it is critical to manage the risks of adding too much complexity to a social protection system that may already struggle with core delivery and basic systems (such as targeting and payment mechanisms) and to ensure that these are in place to provide the foundation on which any more innovative form of public works is based.   ConclusionPublic works have been used as a preferred form of social protection by many donors and governments for decades, favoured for their perceived economic and political benefits, in terms of increasing productivity, contributing to graduation from poverty, and promoting political stability. Yet evidence of their impact on job creation is very weak, and little consideration has been given to their potential for addressing the challenge of youth unemployment and the particular constraints facing young women in entering the labour market. The time has come for a step change in our approach to, and expectations of, what public works can achieve, with the Mozambique pilot offering the potential to generate new evidence and lessons on how a new type of public works can bridge the gap between social protection and economic empowerment, and have a transformative effect on outcomes for adolescent girls and young women. Download the bibliography#page-article-other .items h4.related-title { font-family: futura-pt-condensed,sans-serif; text-transform: uppercase; font-size: 150%; font-weight: medium; padding: 0; margin: 0; clear: both; color: #1CABE2; margin-bottom: 20px; visibility: hidden; position: relative; } h4.related-title:after { visibility: visible; position: absolute; content: "THINK PIECES"; top: 0; left: 0; }

Events

Gender-responsive social protection in times of COVID-19
Event Event

Gender-responsive social protection in times of COVID-19

UNICEF Innocenti hosted a roundtable discussion on gender-responsive social protection during COVID-19 at socialprotection.org's 2020 e-conference.
How do national social protection strategies and programmes integrate gender considerations?
Event Event

How do national social protection strategies and programmes integrate gender considerations?

Elena Camilletti and Zahrah Nesbitt-Ahmed presented "How do national social protection strategies and programmes integrate gender considerations? Evidence from low- and middle income countries" at socialprotection.org's e-conference.
Gender and the Evidence Functions in Social Development
Event Event

Gender and the Evidence Functions in Social Development

30 April - 4 June - In the road trip UNICEF aims to create an informal atmosphere of free exchange under the guidance of peers who are themselves probing and working to solve gender and evidence issues.

Project team

Dominic Richardson

UNICEF Innocenti

Ramya Subrahmanian

UNICEF Innocenti

Elena Camilletti

UNICEF Innocenti

Maja Gavrilovic

UNICEF Innocenti

Zahrah Nesbitt-Ahmed

UNICEF Innocenti

Frank Otchere

UNICEF Innocenti

Camila Perera Aladro

UNICEF Innocenti

Roselyn Sekai Kapungu

UNICEF Innocenti

Nyasha Tirivayi

UNICEF Innocenti

Partners

Related

Innocenti Project(s) 2016-2021:

Disrupting harm

Ethical research for children

Global Kids Online

Humanitarian research

Time to teach

Innocenti Project(s) 2016-2018:

Ethical research and children

PROJECTS ARCHIVE

Conference and meetings

Gender-responsive social protection in times of COVID-19

How do national social protection strategies and programmes integrate gender considerations?

Gender and the Evidence Functions in Social Development

Experts' workshop on gender-responsive and age-sensitive social protection

GRASSP: Unleashing the potential of social protection for girls and women

UNICEF Innocenti @ CSW64

Blogs

Caring in the time of COVID-19: Gender, unpaid care work and social protection

Grasping a more equal future — understanding age and gender in social protection

Gender norms, intersectionality and social protection: In conversation with UNICEF's Dr Zahrah Nesbitt-Ahmed

Reducing poverty while achieving gender equality: the potential of social protection

¿Son sensibles al género las transferencias monetarias en América Latina?

Are Cash Transfers in Latin America Gender-Sensitive?

Can social protection be a driver of gender equality?

Think Pieces

GRASSP Think Pieces Series

GRASSP Think Pieces Bibliographies

Conference reports

Filling the gaps to achieve gender equality

Flyer

The GRASSP project at a glance

What's new

Exploring How Gender Equality Can Be Achieved Through Social Protection

Social Protection: A Key Component for Achieving Gender Equality