Inclusive social protection such as Kenya’s Senior Citizens’ Scheme recognises recipients‘ caring responsibilities, and this is vital to women’s economic empowerment, according to a new report.
The OECD report, Enabling Women’s Economic Empowerment, aims to shed light on how policymakers can design policies to support both those who need care and those who provide care. It states that as women make up a disproportionate share of unpaid carers, they need support, but often are unable to access it. But it also underlines that where they are able to access social protection schemes, these largely target women in their role as mothers or carers, reinforcing stereotypes.
On the positive side, the report says schemes have begun to provide support to caregivers, citing Kenya’s inclusive social pension, which was advanced following evidence that previously, when only a poverty-targeted pension was available, inadequate care was being provided.
In addition, the pension, the Inua Jamii Senior Citizens’ Scheme, has worked with banks to ensure that payment kiosks are within five to six kilometres of beneficiaries, with “proximity crucial to ensure that [the time spent] receiving benefits does not add to time poverty”.
It also cites the examples of programmes providing access to affordable childcare in Brazil, Chile and Mexico. Brazil Carinhoso, a sub-component of the Bolsa Familia provides skills training, access to microcredit and childcare in north-eastern Brazil.
Public works programmes, meanwhile, “have begun to consider the implications of women’s unequal caring responsibilities in their design,” including through childcare providing at worksites, it says, however “this is not always of adequate quality”.
The report concludes that there is a clear need for further investment in schemes, and to build on instances where programmes “increasingly recognise that both mothers and fathers have responsibilities as breadwinners and caregivers”.
It also suggests a need for a multi-tiered approach that also addresses the inadequacies of many social insurance systems. It praises nations such as Uruguay, where caregivers receive ‘contributory credits’ to improve caregivers’ pensions, noting that non-contributory schemes, while providing better access to schemes for those who have spent time caring, often have lower transfer values.