The webinar, Bringing a gender perspective into shock-responsive social protection took place on 26 July 2018. Within the broader scope of shock-responsive social protection, the webinar discussed how gender is often not well integrated into social protection programming for resilience, highlighting the importance of employing a gender lens when dealing with emergency situations. The event was organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG). Reas

The webinar was moderated by Elizabeth Koechlein (Policy Officer, FAO), with presentations by Rebecca Holmes (Senior Research Fellow, ODI), Maria Libertad Dometita (Gender Humanitarian Response Personnel, OXFAM), and Julia Lawson-McDowall (Social Protection, Cash and Resilience Advisor, OXFAM).

The recording is available here and the presentation here. Read Part 1 of the webinar coverage here.


A. Gender-sensitive shock-responsive social protection as a humanitarian response: The Philippines

Maria Libertad Dometita began her presentation by setting a basic premise: any social protection programme or humanitarian response cannot be shock responsive unless it is gender responsive. Employing a gendered version of the “Crunch Model”, the presenter then moved on to an analysis of progression of vulnerability:


The first three columns (purple, orange, and yellow) represent different social processes that cause disasters. When  unsafe conditions are magnified, they may result in a crisis scenario, bringing forth the human suffering caused by the unsafe conditions, which is usually when a response from social protection and humanitarian institutions arrives.

By employing a gender lens, the fluctuation of how vulnerability varies between women and men becomes growingly evident. Additionally, employing a gendered perspective amidst the chaos of a crisis context may offer a silver lining, by presenting opportunities to impact the underlying causes of crisis, by exposing and responding to them.


1. The Philippine experience

i. Cash for Work

After typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013, the region was completely covered in debris. One of the main activities of the cash-for-work programme was to clear the areas affected by the disaster. Initially, the programme only targeted men, as it involved activities traditionally assigned to men. However, after a careful analysis of all the chains of activities that were involved in cleaning the area (not only chopping down trees, carrying heavy loads, or other labour-intensive activities that require physical strength), it was recognised that there were many other activities that could involve women, such as cleaning up small debris, cleaning the streets, etc. This resulted in an equal division of tasks, from a team of beneficiaries that was equitably composed of both women and men.


ii. Cash for Care Work

The Philippine’s Cash for Care Work programme is considered visionary for recognising the importance of traditionally subjugated domestic work. This work is usually unpaid – rendering it invisible in the economy. This programme expands the definition of work, valuing care work as a key effort in responding to crises caused by typhoons, as evidenced by the of Typhoon Haima in 2016.


iii. Cash for Assets

Additionally, the Cash for Assets programme, a conditional cash transfer programme, focused on distribution of productive assets. It initially catered only to activities traditionally considered masculine. However, evidence showed that even activities that are traditionally male, such as fishing, involve women somewhere in the chain of production. Accordingly, the Cash for Assets programme began including assets traditionally used in women’s domestic labour, such as pots, laundry baskets, near shore fishing nets, etc.


2. Organising and capacitating women as a form of intervention

The demand for organising and including women in the design and implementation of social protection programmes that will directly affect them was highlighted. Women’s inclusion often serves as a secondary goal. This is despite evidence demonstrating that organising and capacitating vulnerable women creates a valuable opportunity for them to establish their own platform, creating a safe space in which they can freely organise themselves and come up with original and durable solutions for their livelihoods.


3. Addressing institutional barriers

Disasters usually take place where institutions are weak. When a disaster hits a community with functioning institutions, humanitarian agents must understand what works and what doesn’t, and must serve as a bridge between the population and the service-providing institutions.

For instance, concerning financial inclusion, women in disaster scenarios need credit for rebuilding, productive investment, or .to smooth consumption of basic needs following income loss.Humanitarian professionals should offer women information on how to access programmes to support their income, such as gendered microfinancing, etc. This process is made easier with new technologies and by linking individuals to pre-existing social protection programmes.


B. Integrating gender from safety nets to resilience: A case study from Dollow, Somalia

Julia Lawson-McDowall presented findings from a gender-sensitive livelihoods analysis that she conducted in 2013 in Dollow, Somalia. She highlighted how this information was integrated into FAO’s Cash for Work Programme, a component of the safety net pillar of the joint resilience strategy for Somalia. This case provides relevant lessons for establishing gender-sensitive social protection programming in fragile and conflict affected areas.


In 2011, Somalia went through a food security crisis and famine – FAO rapidly scaled up its Cash for Work programme as a flagship response to:

  1. Provide cash income to eligible households to guarantee access to a minimum food basket.
  2. Rehabilitate or construct community-level infrastructure to protect and increase productivity.
  3. Provide communities with an alternative source of employment and reduce crisis migration.

After the initial response, FAO, UNICEF, and the World Food Program (WFP) worked together to establish the Joint Resilience Initiative for Somalia 2012-2015, moving towards an aligned strategy of ensuring productive activities, basic services that can enhance human capital, and predictable transfers.


The gendered aspects of the programme were incorporated gradually into the programme, corresponding to specific “triggers”:

  • 30% of the places reserved for female headed households in the Cash for Work Programme were not properly taken up
  • The programme’s resilience baseline was based on initial community consultations that did not interview men and women separately, instead referring to the ‘community’. These interviews were therefore redone.


Given the circumstances, a rapid complementary gender analysis of poverty and livelihoods was conducted to better inform policy programming.  The intent of this study was to understand the gender differences in:

  1. Livelihoods and division of labour
  2. Time use
  3. Participation in village level institutions
  4. Wealth differences and gradation from poverty


For the most part, the work was remotely managed, covering six different villages with different livelihood types (Pastoralist, Peri-urban, Riverine, Agro-pastoral). Focus groups were conducted with women and men separately.  The results focus on workloads, as seen in the tables below:


As can be seen in the tables, both men and women have extremely demanding days, however, men still have a break incorporated into their daily lives, while women tend to have longer, busier days.


The villages that were visited had very few community institutions; amounting to around four male led institutions or organisations per village. These were mainly Councils of Elders and religious leaders. Women reported that men dominated formal gatherings and village leadership and felt excluded from consultations about development interventions. On the other hand, men from all village households were called for communal but also for external agency implemented projects. Only three villages had a ‘women’s charitable organisation’.

These insights allowed FAO to recognise that its operational model had led to a degree of gender blindness, as perceived by the gendered data gaps. The agency was limiting their evidence base on how to empower both men and women in households to manage shocks and build resilience according to their asset portfolios, workloads and socially ascribed responsibilities. This critical reflection prompted FAO to rethink its entry points when engaging with women:

The resilience programme continued, and was redesigned in 2015, becoming a joint programme. The focus now is to build resilience by focusing on food security with nutrition as the basic building block of resilience. ‘Healthy, well-nourished families are resilient ones.’ This demonstrates how a gender perspective can improve social protection delivery, ensuring the promotion of livelihoods for all in crisis contexts.


This blog post is part of the Gender-Sensitive Social Protection Series, which brings together the summaries of webinars organised by IPC-IG and FAO on the topic. Please join the Gender-Sensitive Social Protection online community if you are interested in following the most recent discussions on the topic. If you have any thoughts on this webinar summary, we would love to hear from you. Please add your comments below!