Noor Abu Jbara
Social protection is a set of policies and programs that help people prevent and overcome their educational, social, health and economic challenging situations. We’re going to look at it from a feminist perspective and how this impacts women.
4 Categories of Objectives
Social protection has several objectives. These are classified into 4 categories: the first is economic development; such as solving poverty, reducing economic risks, improving labor market, decreasing unemployment rate, increasing productivity and flourishing economy.
The second is social development; such as increasing inclusion, reducing inequality and improving education quality and accessibility.
The third is healthcare development, which is all about improving health systems and promoting a healthy lifestyle.
The United Nation’s SDGs
Social protection is linked with several United Nations sustainable development goals (SDGs). as SDGs 1,3,5 and 8 have social protection targets. For example, goal 1.3 calls for implementing national social protection systems to achieve sustainable coverage of the poor and vulnerable by 2030.
Goal 5.4 calls for valuing unpaid and domestic work, through social protection policies, infrastructure and the promotion of shared responsibility within communities.
Goal 8.5 focuses on offering decent work and economic growth for men and women, young people and people with disabilities. Finally, goal 10.4 focuses on reducing inequalities, through adopting social protection policies.
Social protection policies have several positive effects to many vulnerable groups, such as those in poverty, elderly, people with disabilities, unemployed people and women. It plays a major role in empowering women and girls, which then has a positive effect in improving gender equality and reducing gender based violence.
A Feminist Perspective
It’s important to understand that choosing suitable social protection policies is very critical, in order to achieve women empowerment. For instance, in the UK, women who are educated and have higher income have experienced more domestic violence. Accordingly, we may see a shift in these policies where they’ll focus on reducing domestic abuse more than empowering women through employment and increasing their income, since these activities may have an opposite effect.
Social protection helps women manage risks, adapt with uncertainties and secure a good living. It is also a strategic intervention that secures and maintains social, economic, cultural and human rights.
Finally, it plays a major role in improving women’s economic situation, since it controls the benefits of unemployed people and informer workers, where women are found mostly in informal and unsecured sectors
There are many reasons why focusing on social protection policies empowers and helps women. First, supporting women financially does not ensure their financial sustainability. This is because in most cases this financial support will be distributed to the whole household.
Secondly, women in informal and agricultural sectors women work more hours than men, although men are the majority that work in these sectors (ibid.). And thirdly, women are found in seasonal, short term and low paying employments.
Finally, the success of social protection depends on designing the right policies that match the needs of the targeted beneficiaries, whether they are poor people, individuals with disabilities, or women.
Social protection is one of the major players of increasing gender equality and empowering women. It creates a protective environment and defines structured rules, that support women and reduce the gender gap in homes, communities and labor markets.