Women's Empowerment in Poverty Reduction Programs: How Effective Is It in Addressing Gender Equality?

Poverty and Inequality Analysis

This newsletter edition examines the effectiveness of integrating a women’s empowerment approach into poverty reduction programs in Indonesia, with a main focus on social protection programs.

Here we try to see whether poverty reduction programs—such as the PNPM and PKH— which, by design, incorporate a women’s empowerment component actually help redress gender inequality or, in contrast, further reinforce women’s traditional roles and the existing gender power relations. Furthermore, how should we go about developing program designs and policies that can effectively address gender-specific vulnerabilities, given the fact that women and men experience different socioeconomic impacts? Finally, how can we move towards a gender-sensitive social protection agenda?

From SMERU’s studies, one important lesson learned is that in order to set social protection policies with significant impact on women’s empowerment, we need to move beyond policies that only address women’s immediate needs and start developing ones that will significantly reduce gender inequality. This would mean, among other things, critically challenging the gender division of labor as well as other existing norms. This way, a deeper understanding of gender equality—one that can help set policy directions and objectives—can be constructed.

In terms of policy direction, Rebbeca Holmes, in the Opinion feature of this edition, describes the political economy challenges to the integration of gender equality into poverty reduction and social protection policies and provides a framework for addressing these challenges.

We end this edition with Sanggar Suara Perempuan‘s account of its advocacy work on violence against women in Kabupaten (District of) Timor Tengah Selatan, as an example of communitybased mechanisms for safeguarding vulnerable groups.

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Muhammad Syukri
Asri Yusrina
M. Sulton Mawardi
Athia Yumna
Rachma Indah Nurbani
Rebecca Holmes
Sanggar Suara Perempuan
poverty reduction programs
women empowerment
gender equality
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