Social protection

As part of our research on making care visible, we examined state-owned public policies and programmes in two sectors where the provision of unpaid care is indisputably a factor in determining both uptake and outcome of services, namely Social Protection and early childhood development (ECD). A literature search was undertaken for these two sectors covering all low- and middle-income countries for the past 20 years, with reference to documentation also available on the internet. The review considered the extent to which policies and programmes in these sectors are being designed and implemented in ways that address unpaid care concerns and give the issue greater visibility. To find out more read our Thematic Review on Public Policies Related to Care and our policy brief Towards Gender Equality with Care-Sensitive Social Protection.

Policy findings on social protection

Successful social protection policy incorporates unpaid care into its aims, design, implementation, and evaluation. Yet unpaid care remains invisible in many policies.

We have developed a database of social protection policies and programmes, which contains the data refered to in the above publications. There are four types of social protection policies and programmes covered: conditional cash transfers (CCTs), public works, social transfers, and unconditional cash transfers (UCTs).

The database covers 50+ countries and over 260 state-owned public policies and programmes. It also highlights which policies and programmes take unpaid care work into consideration and indicates the extent to which they recognise women’s unpaid care work, reduce the drudgery associated with performing care and/or redistribute responsibilities for care (e.g. towards the state, community, men.)

Search the Social Protection Policies and Programmes database

The four types of social protection policies and programmes explained

Conditional cash transfers (CCTs) are programmes that aim to reduce poverty by transferring cash, generally to poor households, on the condition that those households meet certain criteria. These criteria may include enrolling children into public schools, getting regular check-ups at the doctor's office or receiving vaccinations.

Public works programmes are a form of conditional transfer whereby cash or food is given in return for work on public infrastructure projects, such as road building.  

Social transfers are non-contributory (e.g. non-contributory pensions, child benefit, disability allowance) social assistance provided by public and civic bodies to those living in poverty or in danger of falling into poverty.

Unconditional Cash Transfers (UCTs) are programmes that aim to reduce poverty by providing transfers including social pensions, disability pensions, child and family support grants, and other cash grants to vulnerable individuals and households without any conditions upon the receivers' actions. 

Integrated Social Protection takes a multi-sectoral approach when addressing both social and economic vulnerabilities, as well as structural and shock-related vulnerabilities. It tends to frame social protection strategies within a broader set of social and economic policies.