Webinar: The Politics of Gender-Responsive Social Protection

Photo Credit: Paul Bronstein/Getty Images Reportage

Social protection policies and systems 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.  

The Politics of Gender-Responsive Social Protection webinar was one in a series orgranised by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) ahead of the  63rd session of the 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 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? 

WIEGO’s Director of Social Protection, Laura Alfers presented on the role of grassroots civil society in furthering a gender-responsive social protection agenda. Her presentation explored the role of grassroots civil society in furthering a gender-responsive social protection agenda from the perspective of grassroots organizations of informal workers affiliated to the global network Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO). It outlined some of the ways in which these organizations have attempted to influence social protection policies and programmes, and provided an analysis of the critical political configurations which shape possibilities and strategies for collective action. 

Other speakers

  • Dr. Nicola Jones, Principal Research Fellow, Gender and Social Inclusion (GESI) programme, ODI
  • Lía Limón, Founder of the Programme on Day care Centres for Working Women’s Children at the Ministry of Social Development, Mexico 
  • DFID UK (discussant)


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

More information

View Recording of Webinar: The Politics of Gender Responsive Social Protection

Learn more about WIEGO's Social Protection Programme

Read Delinking and Rethinking: Social Protection for Women in Informal Employment

Read How the Draft WDR 2019 Got it Wrong: Rethinking and “Relinking” Social Protections for the Future of Work 

Read ILO Publication: Learning From Experience: A Gendered Approach to Social Protection for Workers in the Informal Economy

Read Pillars of Social Protection