Gender, Vulnerability and Social Protection
Table Of Contents:
An Overview of the Manual
How to Use the Manual
Part One: Gender and Social Vulnerability
Unit One Introduction to Gender and Social Vulnerability
Unit Two Gender Inclusion/Exclusion and Social Vulnerability
Unit Three Gender, Life Course, Livelihoods and Social Vulnerability
Unit Four Gender, Health Delivery Systems and Social Vulnerability
Unit Five Gender, Credit Systems and Social Vulnerability 61
Part Two: Gender and Social Protection
Unit Six Introduction to Gender and Social Protection
Unit Seven Institutions for Social Protection
Unit Eight Gender, Safety Nets and Social Vulnerability
Unit Nine Mainstreaming Gender in Social Protection Programmes
Unit Ten Relating Social Vulnerability to Social Protection: Towards a Conclusion
Africa, especially Sub-Saharan Africa, faces a number of challenges ranging from insecurity, diseases such as HIV and AIDS, poverty, low levels of literacy, corruption, mismanagement of the available resources, among many other hurdles. All people irrespective of their gender, class, or race face these challenges to some extent, but the poor and the vulnerable tend to suffer to a disproportionate extent because of their weak socioeconomic status. Gender inequality further affects the intensity with which men and women suffer these challenges. Gender, as a social construct, is at the root of social organisation of all societies. However, the extent to which gender affects different societies vary as this is determined by the specific acculturation processes of these societies. The life of the African person is determined, from birth to death, by gender considerations. The gender- centred acculturation process in these societies creates sociocultural differences that govern social vulnerability and protection of both men and women as distinct social beings. The African Union (AU) in the report The Road to Gender Equality in Africa (2004) indicated that most African governments have realized the role that gender plays in development, and subsequently, they have enshrined gender equality in their constitutions. The increasing focus on sex and gender issues and the emphasis on equality in educational opportunities are reflected in more girls being enrolled in all levels of education than it was twenty years ago. It is important to point out that these achievements are also attributable to other factors outside constitutional provisions. More women are employed in various sectors of the economy and the level of women’s participation in various arenas of government is on the increase in most African countries. Governments in many African countries are now dealing with issues on gender vulnerability through a provision of social protection services. Such services provided by governments are however limited, and there are new challenges cropping up to create different challenges faced by both men and women. For example, the wave of insecurity and conflicts in many African countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Somalia and the recent Arab spring that has swept through Egypt and Libya have spawned corresponding waves of engendered problems including sexual violence against women, mass death, especially for young men who are directly involved in the conflict and traumatisation of children. Additionally, the HIV and AIDS pandemic has negatively affected the engendered responsibilities – women, who are already overburdened by traditional roles – have been forced to take on additional roles such as caring for the ailing members of the family. The scourge has not spared even the elderly in the community. Grandparents, especially grandmothers, have been thrust into caring of orphaned grandchildren.
In spite of the progress to eliminate gender inequality in African countries, women, to a great extent, continue to be segregated, discriminated and subjugated in certain socio-economic, religious and political quarters. The Road to Gender Equality in Africa (2004) captures this concern succinctly: Although a large body of research has revealed women's disproportionate burden of poverty, previous and current poverty reduction strategies have not given sufficient attention to women's poverty nor have they allocated the requisite resources that would create the necessary conditions for women to move out of poverty. Despite women's significant roles in agricultural production, women are denied the right to own or inherit land. They rarely have access to extension services, credit and training in new technologies.
On the other hand, due to emphasis placed on the need to empower women, the boy child, and men who also need empowering have been ignored in the mainstreaming of the development agenda. For example, among the communities living along the shores of Lake Victoria in the three East Africa countries of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, engagement in fishing has increased the social vulnerability of the boy child, as the boy child in these communities is lured away from school and other empowerment programmes by the easy money acquired from fishing in the lake. Unfortunately, the same easy availability of money makes the boy child a willing prey to older women fishmongers who trade sex for fish, a situation that partly explains the high HIV/AIDS prevalence in these communities.
Mainstreaming gender equality in African countries is a feasible solution to issues that face both men and women and derail the development processes. The mainstreaming should be clearly understood both in theoretical and practical terms. One way to mentor future development thinkers and practitioners who can take the development agenda of African countries to a better level is through provision of sound and relevant training to students, especially in tertiary levels of education. Masters students need skills and provision of how to apply the knowledge gained in their real world. It is for this reason that our institutions require well-grounded master’s level materials on gender within the context of sub-Saharan Africa. Materials that focus on African realities based on African case studies. Students should thereafter be able to contribute to research, scholarship, policy formulation, and implementation of truly gender sensitive and gender appropriate development initiatives. It is hoped that this manual will contribute towards fulfilling this need.
All the units in this manual were written from researches of secondary data. The authors used books, journals articles, online materials, and integrated our fieldwork and case study experiences to consolidated the manual. The sources have been duly acknowledged. Most of the secondary data reviewed related to gender, social vulnerability and protection. The manual is divided into two parts. The Part One addresses gender and social vulnerability and Part Two focuses on gender and social protection. The manual was subjected to intensive review by gender experts whose feedback helped shape the final product. If there is any erroneous information in the document, the authors remain solely responsible.