The politics of gender-responsive social protection


Social protection policies have the potential to play a critical role in transforming women’s and girls’ lives. They can do this by addressing lifecycle risks and transitions, recognising and valuing unpaid care and domestic work, increasing access to services and infrastructure and promoting women’s and girls’ voice and agency. Critically, social protection policies and systems must be designed and implemented to achieve these objectives. If not, they risk exacerbating gender inequalities and discrimination. The extent to which social protection is gender-responsive however is as much a political decision as a technical one, and influenced by many factors including political regime type, the role of civil society, social structures and norms.  

This webinar was the second in a series organised by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) ahead of the 63rd Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63) with its priority theme on “social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls”. The webinar brought together experts across the field of social protection and gender to explore the following key questions: 

  • What are the political economy drivers and barriers to promoting gender-responsive social protection?
  • Who are the key influencers of social protection policy and are there different politics at play for different actors? E.g. what are the roles of government, donor, NGO and grassroots civil society in furthering a gender-responsive social protection agenda?
  • In what ways do the politics of gender-responsive social protection differ with regard to the lifecycle? Is the constellation of actors and interests different if the focus is on young children vs adolescents vs mothers vs older women?
  • How can the challenges be overcome to promote social protection which transforms women’s and girls’ lives in a politically smart way? 



Laura Alfers, Director, Social Protection Programme, WIEGO 

Dr. Nicola Jones, Principal Research Fellow, Gender and Social Inclusion (GESI) programme, ODI

Lía Limón, Founder of the program on day care centres for working women’s children at the Ministry of Social Development, Mexico 


Rebecca Holmes, Research Associate, Social Protection and Social Policy Programme, ODI



This webinar was the second of the Social Protection and Gender Equality Series, which was organized by ODI and DFID.