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Engendering Social Security and Protection

Engendering Social Security and Protection

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Given the existing gender-based inequalities, three different (but potentially complementary)
strategies are needed for equalizing social protection outcomes for women and men: (1) eliminating gender-blind and discriminatory practices in social insurance programme design so as to obtain more equal outcomes, (2) strengthening labour market regulations (e.g. minimum wage, wage discrimination) and other social provisions
(e. g. public care services) to create a more level-playing field for women within labour markets; and (3) developing systems of social protection that are not linked to individual employment trajectories (social assistance programmes) and over time making these rights-based and broad-based / universal.
Given the existing gender-based inequalities, three different (but potentially complementary)
strategies are needed for equalizing social protection outcomes for women and men: (1) eliminating gender-blind and discriminatory practices in social insurance programme design so as to obtain more equal outcomes, (2) strengthening labour market regulations (e.g. minimum wage, wage discrimination) and other social provisions
(e. g. public care services) to create a more level-playing field for women within labour markets; and (3) developing systems of social protection that are not linked to individual employment trajectories (social assistance programmes) and over time making these rights-based and broad-based / universal.

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09/03/2013

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INTERNATIONAL POLICY ANALYSISSHAHRA RAZAVI*
June 2011
The global crisis of 2007/8 has underlined, once again, the important role of socialsecurity and protection. However, in practice there are going to be significant varia-tions in crisis response across countries, ranging from austerity measures in some,to policy inaction in others, and expansion of nascent social protection systems instill others.Given the existing gender-based inequalities, three different (but potentially comple-mentary) strategies are needed for equalizing social protection outcomes for womenand men: (1) eliminating gender-blind and discriminatory practices in social insuranceprogramme design so as to obtain more equal outcomes, (2) strengthening labourmarket regulations (e.g. minimum wage, wage discrimination) and other social provi-sions (e. g. public care services) to create a more level-playing field for women withinlabour markets; and (3) developing systems of social protection that are not linkedto individual employment trajectories (social assistance programmes) and over timemaking these rights-based and broad-based / universal.
However, excessive demands should not be placed on social protection systems. Inthe end, a social protection system cannot substitute for adequate macroeconomic,industrial or agricultural policies. Nor can they create the right quantity and qualityof employment and a fair distribution of income on their own. Social protection sys-tems need to work in tandem with a number of other policies to create more equaland prosperous societies.
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Engendering SocialSecurity and Protection
Challenges for Making Social Security andProtection Gender Equitable
 
SHAHRA RAZAVI | ENGENDERING SOCIAL SECURITY AND PROTECTION
1
1.
 
After the crisis: Social security and protection in the spotlight
.................
22. A note on terminology
..................................................
2
 
3. Working hard but outside the comfort zone of social protection
...............
34. Social protection in developing countries: Its limits and gender barriers
.........
4
4.1Gender-specicbarrierstosocialprotection
.................................54.2 Social insurance schemes and their gender fault lines ..........................54.3 Social assistance programmes ............................................64.4 Other more enabling social protection programmes ...........................8
5. Conclusion and Recommendations
........................................
9References
......................................................................................................................
11
Contents
This paper is part of a publication series on gender and social security and protection and was first presentedat the annual conference of the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE) in Hangzhou, China inJune 2011. For more information on the international FES gender activities visit the website of the Global Policyand Development Department: www.fes.de/gpol
 
SHAHRA RAZAVI | ENGENDERING SOCIAL SECURITY AND PROTECTION
2
The global economic crisis in 2007 / 8 underlined, onceagain, the important role of social security and protectionas a buffer against the adverse social affects of suddendrops in income / employment. It also revived interest inthe role of social protection as a countercyclical measurefor stimulating aggregate demand and facilitating recove-ry from economic downturns. Prompted by the social fall-outs of the recent crisis as well as favourable assessmentsof experiences in some several developing countries, UNagencies and non-governmental organizations have joinedforces to advocate strongly in favour of social protection.Given all that has been said about the adverse impli-cations of economic crises for women, it is importantto ask how effective these different systems of socialprotection are going to be in preventing gender-baseddeprivation and tackling gender inequalities. This paperseeks to address this question by focusing on developingcountries in particular.In practice there are significant variations in crisis re-sponse across countries. In advanced welfare states,austerity measures in some countries risk underminingthe fiscal and institutional basis of their social securitysystems. Early assessments suggest that these measuresare also likely to constitute a setback for gender equality(UK Women’s Budget Group 2010). Fast-growing lower-and middle-income countries whose financial systemswere relatively insulated from the crisis, however, may beable to expand their nascent social protection systems toaddress the adverse impacts on employment and liveli-hoods. How effective are these systems going to be inmeeting women’s needs and enhancing gender equali-ty? In other developing countries characterized by fiscaland institutional weaknesses, as well as the absence ofstrong political coalitions supportive of social protection,policy inaction may be the more likely outcome. Policy
in-action
, however, is far from gender-neutral, for it meansmaintaining the power relations and gender inequalitiesenshrined by the
 status quo
.
2. A note on terminology
Apart from employment, savings and accumulated as-sets (such as land and housing), and the unpaid workthat goes into sustaining livelihoods, economic securityalso requires
social protection or social security
me-chanisms.The basic idea of social security is to use »social meansto prevent deprivation and vulnerability to deprivation«(Drèze and Sen 1991: 5). Social protection, likewise, isconcerned with preventing, managing and overcomingsituations that adversely affect people’s well-being orliving standards.
1
It includes contingencies such as illness,disability, maternity, and old age; market-risks such asunemployment and price volatilities that adversely affectthe incomes of farmers or self-employed workers; as wellas economic crises and natural disasters (UNRISD 2010).Social protection instruments encompass social insuranceand social assistance programmes.
Social insurance
re-fers to employment-related programmes financed fromcontributions from employers and employees based onearnings.
Social assistance
provides transfers to thosewho are unable to work or excluded from gainful employ-ment, and who are deemed eligible, whether on the basisof their income, age or some other criteria of vulnerability,or on the basis of their rights as citizens. Public employ-ment programmes are also a form of social assistance. So-cial assistance programmes are usually financed throughgeneral taxation and external resources (UNRISD 2010).Social protection instruments encompass social insur-ance and social assistance programmes. Social insurancerefers to employment-related programmes financedfrom contributions from employers and employeesbased on earnings. Social assistance provides transfersto those who are unable to work or excluded from gain-ful employment, and who are deemed eligible, whetheron the basis of their income, age or some other criteriaof vulnerability, or on the basis of their rights as citizens.Public employment programmes are also a form of socialassistance. Social assistance programmes are usually fi-nanced through general taxation and external resources(UNRISD 2010).Some of the work on social protection within the WorldBank has identified »social risk management« (SRM)as its preferred framework (Holzmann and Jorgensen
* I would like to thank Sarah Cook and Susan Javad for useful commentson an earlier draft.1. The concept of social protection is broader than social security becauseit also covers non-statutory schemes (ILO 2001: 8).
1. After the crisis: Social securityand protection in the spotlight

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