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Marie Laperrière and Ann Shola Orloff

The chapter discusses the ways in which welfare states have responded to the challenge of an emerging ‘care deficit’ in both rich and poor countries, and to the challenge of persistent patterns of gender inequality in wages and opportunities. Gender relations remain central to social politics and social policies. The chapter assesses to what extent welfare states have been successful in promoting gender equality. It is claimed that even in places where there is an explicit commitment to gender equality, concerns with gendered power, or with the role of social policies in addressing gender vulnerabilities, is too often absent from political discourses. Although gender awareness has become the norm in much welfare state scholarship, issues of power are often occluded. The conclusion is that to better understand the potential of states to promote gender equality, one has to build on the long tradition of feminist scholarship that has emphasized the workings of power inside welfare states.