April 2020 / Estelle Gagbenin, Academic Trainee, Quality Assurance and Poverty Reduction Section, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
As part of International Women's Day 2020, Development Pathways organised a webinar to challenge the assumptions underlying policy narratives and discourses that stereotype men and women in social protection. Two experts, Professor Maxine Molyneux from the Institute of the Americas, University College London and Juan Gonzalo Jaramillo Mejia from World Food Programme shared their views and experiences on the prevalent assumptions that perpetuate "gender myths" in social protection and social policy. They also highlighted entry points and leads on how to break these stereotypes of the policy discourses.
The main assumptions considered in this webinar were the following:
With two central points of those assumptions:
Why do those underlying assumptions need to be challenged? The response is straightforward: if we want to achieve equality in gender and development, the main narratives must be changed as they impact the design and focus of programmes in social protection.
Do social protection programmes indeed advance gender equality – do they have a transformative impact?
In many cases, the response is unfortunately negative. As reflected by the assumptions, social protection is usually not seen as a strategy to promote gender equality, but as a strategy for poverty reduction. What is the issue with that focus and narrative? By maintaining the underlying assumptions, the programmes do not question the existing division of labour and the overall social structures with some of the following consequences:
The two experts also presented some entry points and leads on how to make social protection programmes more transformative and gender aware:
The experts and the participants tackled many other issues, assumptions and entry points. Consequently, we hope that this short overview of the webinar will make you want to follow the webinar by yourself, which is available here: