Edited by James Midgley, Rebecca Surender and Laura Alfers
Chapter 4: Gender: toward gender equality and poverty reduction
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.
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