Research for policy and practice

ESRC-DFID research for policy and practice: women, work and social protection

Photo: © Robin Hammond/Panos Pictures

To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals it is critical to unlock women’s untapped economic potential and account for their wider contributions to society. This must go hand in hand with promoting women's empowerment, dignity and self-reliance. Doing so is of direct and urgent relevance to the ambitions that underpin the SDGs related to: ending poverty; achieving gender equality; achieving full employment and decent work for all; and reducing inequality.

This collection of ESRC-DFID-funded research explores the need for holistic social protection measures that move beyond a framing of poverty alleviation as primarily being about access to the traditional labour market and cash transfers to include measures that empower women and support them in juggling household and caring responsibilities for children and other family members.  It draws on research from Bangladesh, Malawi, Lesotho, South Africa and Rwanda.

Focus projects: 

Workers in the Wool Tex Sweaters Limited in Shewrapara, Dhaka in Bangladesh
This study utilizes household survey data from four African and Asian countries to examine in depth, and on a comparable basis, the evolving nature of female labour supply in low income countries over the past two to three decades, and to analyse the links with poverty reduction.
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This project explores the extent to which policy makers take into account gender and dignity in the process of social security design and implementation, including whether it jeopardises traditional forms of social solidarity for lone mothers.

This project seeks to understand the gender dynamics of the labour market in the context of Bangladesh. Labour markets are recognised as key institutional routes through which the benefits of growth are distributed across populations. Moreover, empirical research suggests that women’s access to labour market opportunities, particularly those which offer predictable incomes and ‘decent’ working conditions, can strengthen their voice and agency within the family and in the wider community.

Social cash transfer
Youth poverty is important, not least because of its implications for the future, yet rural youth poverty in particular has received little attention from researchers or policy makers. The recent innovation in policy responses to poverty in sub-Saharan Africa has been social cash transfer (SCT) schemes.