New report from UNRISD on welfare, work and gender available here

‘This paper examines the relationship between employment and social policy specifically from a gender perspective. It first lays out, in section 1, the conceptual ground, drawing on a range of heterodox economic and feminist analyses to suggest alternative ways of understanding institutions and labour markets as gendered structures. Indeed, the empirical evidence reviewed in section 2, in terms of the persistence of gender hierarchies within both paid (in terms of earnings/wages) and unpaid work (in terms of time), despite significant “masculinization” of women’s working lives (that is, their increasing participation in the labour force), does not fit comfortably within the predictions of standard labour market models. Gendered stratifications are also evident within the welfare system, where entitlements are linked to paid employment (social insurance) and ability to pay provide stronger claims to welfare, compared to needs-based (social assistance) entitlements delinked from employment.

Given the gendered structures and processes that limit women’s formal employment opportunities and weaken their labour force attachment, and in turn compromise their access to social security and protection, section 3 goes on to explore relationships and interactions between work, employment and social policies. The concluding section draws out some of the policy implications from the preceding analysis for more gender-egalitarian policy agendas. It also connects the gendered analysis of welfare and work back to arguments about the difficulties of fully delinking rights to social protection from employment. From a gender perspective, the critical challenge is to rethink labour markets/work to bring unpaid work, and particularly the reproductive sector, within the frameworks of analysis of the economy and markets, while also addressing the inequalities inherent in welfare systems that privilege market- and labour-based “contributory” entitlements over “needs-based” claims to social assistance.‘ (UNRISD 2012)



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