Social protection floors (SPF) have become a firmly established part of the global development agenda. In a recent policy brief delivered by the United Nations, it argued that women are over-represented when it comes to those excluded from existing SPFs. It put forwards the case for expanding SPFs to further integrate women.
The policy brief first explains the overall global goals of SPFs and how there are 4 basic guarantees that have been put forward for countries to commit to. 3 of these guarantees relates to basic income security and the final guarantee is access to basic health care, with maternity care being included in that. The brief then goes on to show how by utilizing well-designed social protection schemes the poverty rates of singles mothers drops dramatically. This is clearly seen in the case of Denmark and Sweden where the percentage of single mothers living in poverty drops from 59% and 54% respectively to 8% and 5% respectively.
The brief then moves on strategies into how to integrate gender in SPFs. It argues that ‘Context-specific assessments of gendered risks and vulnerabilities are an important precondition for designing gender-responsive SPFs.’ This is a fair point and the brief does give its reasoning for this statement. The problem with this statement, however, is that in the drive to achieve equity amongst the genders (specifically in the West), gender-responsive SPFs will lose their usefulness in some regards. The only way an SPF would be useful if full equity is achieved, is in looking at the difference in costs associated with ill-health and that of rehabilitation. The brief moves on to review three common instruments that build SPF’s at the national level.
The three common instruments are cash transfers, public work scheme and access to essential health care. The cash transfer scheme section examines how it is income security for children and how most of the schemes target mothers as they are like to prioritize investments in a child well-being and looks at the both the positives and the problems that arise from these types of programs. The policy brief states that while an assumption is made that women’s...