How are social protection programmes targeting or inclusive of adolescence?
1. MAJA GAVRILOVIC, UNICEF OFFICE OF
HOW ARE SOCIAL
SOCIAL PROTECTION GENDER NORMS AND
ADOLESCENCE: AN EXPERT DIALOGUE
2. WHY INVEST IN
Social Protection (SP) can play critical role in facilitating safe
transitions to adulthood
• Period of rapid physiological, biological and
• Heighted exposure to poverty and vulnerabilities
(Neetu, et. al, 2017).
Unique window of opportunity for SP to:
• Improve opportunities constrained by gender norms
• Promote more equitable gender roles and relations
• In many countries, there is a limited recognition of
adolescence as a distinct life stage
3. HOW ARE
With global attention in adolescent development growing, key
moment to step up the efforts and leverage impacts of SP for
Traditionally, adolescents not the primary focus of government-
• Prioritization of ECD and adult outcomes
• In SSA, targeting often includes large number of
adolescents, but their multiple needs and vulnerabilities
rarely reflected in programme design
Gender lens inconsistently used for understanding risk &
vulnerability and informing design
• Many issues related to adolescence (eg. sexuality,
SRH) remain sensitive and a cultural taboo, limiting
buy-in for adolescence-focused programming
4. Target Groups in SP Programmes in SSA
Source: Cirillo & Tebaldo 2016 (Social Protection in Africa: Inventory
of Non-Contributory Programmes): http://www.ipc-
THE CRACKS IN
5. HOW ARE NEEDS
Sub-set of adolescent-focused programmes (typically run as
pilots) to address different (overlapping) vulnerabilities faced by
Social transfers mainly used for this purpose include:
• Cash transfers (conditional and unconditional)
• Educational stipends/scholarships/vocational training
• Fee waivers
• In-kind transfers (eg. school feeding, uniforms/school
Focus on a narrow set of issues and younger cohorts (e.g.
meeting practical needs)
‘Transformative’ programs can be used as a vehicle to
• empowerment, voice and agency among
• tackle harmful socio-cultural practices
• improve their strategic position in families and
6. FOCUS PRIMARILY
Affirmative action for girls is justified given their greater
(multidimensional) poverty, compared to boys (UN Women,
More efforts are needed to reflect in programming how gender
norms and ideologies of masculinity expose boys to specific
Main adolescent-focus to date: promote secondary school
Strong evidence that conditional and unconditional programs:
• improve school attendance and attainment (Baird et
• delay sexual debut, marriage and childbearing and
reduce risky behavior but not in all settings (Dake et
al. 2018 Handa et al. 2014; Handa et al. 2015;
Heinrich et al. 2017)
• improve mental health (Kilburn et al. 2016)
• reduce intimate partner violence (Pettifor et al. 2016)
• reduce gender disparities in secondary school
• challenge traditional attitudes around how girls are
valued by their families and communities
• provide safe, progressive environment for girls and
boys where they can learn new values/norms, and be
9. SOCIAL AND
IMPACTS ON SAFE
Transfer Project research has identified education and increases
in household economic stability as 2 main pathways through
which SCTs facilitate safe transitions to adulthood
• But, varies by context, and pathways found to be
more important among female populations
Differential impacts on some outcomes (sexual behaviour,
mental health among others) for males vs. females has been
demonstrated in some countries
Can be hypothesized that traditional gender norms may be
underlying and moderating some of these differential effects, but
further research needed.
10. Need robust
unpack the links
core pathways &
Important for research & evaluations
to measure gender norms/attitudes &
examine moderating impacts
Even if no impacts on norms
11. PROGRAMMES MAY
Child Marriage Examples
“Our daughters, our wealth”, CCT program in India conditional
on girls remaining unmarried until the age of 18
Transformative scope: i) Send message to invest in girls
(valuable and not a burden) ii) use cash for girls education rather
• No positive effects, may have encouraged families to
marry off their daughters once they turned 18.
• Poor design jeopardized results (e.g. absence
of clear messaging to promote intent)
UNICEF supported Integrated Safety Net Programme (INSP) in
Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) – case
management focus to combat harmful gender norms and
practices around early marriage, invest in adolescent SRH
(among other aims) rolling out in 2018
Targeting by itself may not be enough to achieve specific
objectives if transfers are not shared equitably within HH
Adolescent-sensitive design innovations
• South Africa: providing transfers directly to adolescent
girls (not caregivers)
• Malawi: transfers (varied amounts) provided to
adolescent girl and caregiver in participating HH
• India: individual entitlements have been piloted in the
Basic Income Grant pilot in India
Transfer size can address specific gender and age
• Mexico, Colombia, Tanzania: Higher amounts for
secondary- school-age girls than for primary-school-
• Jamaica: Higher payments for secondary-school age
HOW CAN DESIGN
14. HOW CAN DESIGN
Messaging/soft conditions: Influence allocation of resources,
strengthen the bargaining power of individuals who may
otherwise lack it (Pace et al. 2018).
• Conditions found to improve the outcomes of ‘marginal’
children in whom parents are less likely to invest (eg.
Burkina Faso pilot).
• Soft conditionality’ labeling also effective (eg. ‘tagging’
• Using messaging to promote certain adolescent-
focused outcomes (eg. sexual behavior, education,
Cash+ programming: cash alone not enough to address the
multifaceted challenges faced by adolescents.
Efforts to link adolescents in SCT participating households
with complementary programming/services targeting specific
• Malawi, Zambia: linked adolescents to information,
treatment and testing for HIV
• Tanzania: livelihoods training, mentoring & linkages to
Mainstream adolescent lens into programming:
• Ensure their needs are explicitly and systematically
reflected in the programme cycle (e.g. vuln.
assessments, objectives, features, M&E)
• Invest in staff capacity and operational systems, building
political commitment and support.
Where programmes specifically target adolescents:
• Consider when girls and/or boys should be preferentially
targeted, and base this selection on evidence instead of
• Target especially vulnerable groups of
adolescents/those ‘hard-to-reach’ e.g. teen mothers,
out-of-school adolescents etc.
• Should be well-designed and implemented:
• Broad (or gender-neutral) awareness raising
messages can easily signal the wrong message,
inadvertently reinforcing negative behaviors
Complementary support Should be tailored to adolescent
needs, vulnerabilities, age and priorities (life cycle lens)
Social/gender norms lens critical for advancing
transformative programming but must be practical/feasible
• Relative importance of ‘social norms approach’
depends on specific issues/context
• Understand when/how norms act as a barrier to
• Recognition that design and implementation
practices themselves are informed by social norms
and beliefs (eg. gender assumptions in CCTs)
• Should not oversell the potential of SP to affect social
and gender norms (eg. cost effectiveness)
• Methodologies to measure/assess changes in norms
related to SP (what should we measure, at what level
• More analysis of moderating effects of norms
18. • Baird, S., et al. (2014). "Conditional, unconditional and everything in between: a systematic review of the effects of cash transfer
programmes on schooling outcomes." Journal of Development Effectiveness 6(1): 1-43.
• Cluver, L., Boyes, M., Orkin, M., Pantelic, M., Molwena, T., & Sherr, L. (2013). Child-focused state cash transfers and adolescent
risk of HIV infection in South Africa: a propensity-score-matched case-control study. The Lancet Global Health, 1(6), e362-e370.
• Dake, F., Natali, L., Angeles, G., De Hoop, J., Handa, S., & Peterman, A. (2018). Income transfers, early marriage and fertility in
Malawi and Zambia. Studies in family planning, in press.
• Handa, S., Halpern, C. T., Pettifor, A., & Thirumurthy, H. (2014). The government of Kenya's cash transfer program reduces the
risk of sexual debut among young people age 15-25. PLoS One, 9(1), e85473-e85473.
• Handa, S., Peterman, A., Huang, C., Halpern, C. T., Pettifor, A., & Thirumurthy, H. (2015). Impact of the Kenya Cash Transfer for
Orphans and Vulnerable Children on Early Pregnancy and Marriage of Adolescent Girls. Social Science & Medicine, 141, 36-45.
• Heinrich, C. J., Hoddinott, J., & Samson, M. (2017). Reducing adolescent risky behaviors in a high-risk context: the effects of
unconditional cash transfers in South Africa. Economic Development and Cultural Change, 65(4), 619-652.
• Kilburn, K., Thirumurthy, H., Tucker Halpern, C., Pettifor, A., & Handa, S. (2016). Effects of a large-scale unconditional cash
transfer program on mental health outcomes of young people in Kenya: a cluster randomized trial. Journal of Adolescent Health,
• Neetu, A., et al. (2017) Gender Socialization During Adolescents in Low- and Middle-Income countries: Conceptualization,
influences and outcomes. Innocenti Discussion Paper 2017-01.
• Pace, N., et al. (2018). Shaping Cash Transfer Impacts Through ‘Soft-conditions’: Evidence from Lesotho. Journal of African
Economies, 2018, 1-31.
• Pettifor, A., et al. (2016). "The effect of a conditional cash transfer on HIV incidence in young women in rural South Africa (HPTN
068): a phase 3, randomised controlled trial." The Lancet Global Health 4(12): e978-e988.
• Rosenberg, M. et. al, (2013) The Impact of a National Poverty Reduction Program on the Characteristics of Sex Partners Among
Kenyan Adolescents. Journal of AIDS and Behaviour (2014) 18:311-316.
• UN Women. 2015. Progress of the world’s women 2015-2016. Transforming economies. Realizing rights. New York, USA.