Falling through the Net? Gender and social protection in the Pacific
This paper examines the gender dimensions and implications of social protection in relation to rapid transformations in the globalizing economies in the Pacific region. The paper analyzes the dynamics of gender and social protection in three countries of the region – Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Vanuatu – and explores how best to approach social protection so as to promote gender equality rather than risk reinscribing prevailing gender inequalities. The paper emphasizes the need to move beyond bipolar divisions of customary and commodity economies or informal and formal economies to consider the everyday realities of making a living. Women will ‘fall through the net’ if social protection is unduly yoked to the public sphere of the state and the formal commodity economy in which women are marginalised. Women’s own perceptions of their contemporary situation and their agency as both individuals and collectivities should be carefully heeded in finding creative solutions for gender equality in social protection for sustainable Pacific futures. The paper concludes by suggestion that efforts to ensure women's social protection in the Pacific need to be alert to the risks that women might 'fall through the net.' This paper was produced for UN Women's flagship report Progress of the World's Women 2015-2016 to be released as part of the UN Women discussion paper series.