This chapter by Leila Patel discusses the gender dimensions of the Child Support Grant (CSG) in South Africa. This is one of the country’s largest social protection programmes, reaching almost 40 per cent of poor children. The CSG is cited as a social investment in social care in the family and households yielding positive outcomes through the empowerment of women, which in turn contributes to improved child well-being. The author draws on national and community-level data on gender and care in South Africa. The data however also point to the limitations of social investment policies in promoting gender justice, especially where such social policies fail to challenge the gendered nature of care in the family, community and in the social service sector. Key words: social investment, international social welfare, social protection, gender, South Africa
This chapter provides an overview of social policies in development contexts and how they address issues of gender in low and middle income countries. The literature on social welfare in colonial and post-colonial societies paid scant attention to the gendered nature of social welfare provision and how gendered assumptions undergird informal care in the private sphere and, later, in the public domain. Gender-unequal norms and relations between men and women were invisible in analyses of welfare systems in these countries, as well as how they reproduced gender inequality. This paradigm began to change in the 1970s when feminist scholars challenged the dominant androncentric welfare approach, based on modernization theories of development, and the assumption that women and men benefit equally from development processes. This paved the way for the emergence of a range of approaches to women, gender and development over the ensuing years. The chapter discusses cash transfers, a contemporary social policy instrument to reduce poverty, empower women and promote gender equality, considering the question as to how far these social policies go in being socially transformative, that is, promote gender justice. The chapter concludes with some pointers on new directions that gender and social policies are likely to take in the future.
Trudie Knijn and Leila Patel
To combat child poverty, South Africa adopted and implemented an expansive publicly funded social assistance policy reaching 63 per cent of poor children. The Child Support Grant (CSG), fashioned on the notion of the ‘primary caregiver’, is gender-neutral and does not distinguish between family types in its eligibility criteria. It therefore represents a progressive approach to the design of child and family support benefits in a middle-income country. However, South Africa’s newly adopted family policy (White Paper on Families or WPF) in 2013 which advocates marriage and the heteronormative nuclear family model contradicts the earlier approach to family support. In this chapter, Knijn and Patel examine these two national policies that were adopted at different times in post-apartheid South Africa. They argue that the policies take divergent stands on the notion of families in the society and on the direction of social interventions. This reflects the ideological shifts from a progressive policy approach in the mid-1990s towards more conservative notions about families in the contemporary period. The authors commence their analysis with an examination of the CSG followed by an analysis of the successive versions of the WPFs (1997, 2005 and 2013). The two approaches to families and their relevance in the local context are compared and they conclude that the CSG is a more enabling family policy and is more contextually appropriate than the family policy presented in the WPFs.