Social Policy Development and the Role of Gender
Social Policy Frameworks
A social policy framework is considered as a guide towards a direction in which a given group of people intends to move. The frameworks define personalities, attitudes and beliefs within a social system, for which they are willing to fight and protect at a cost. According to Agyepong & Adjei (2008) posited that the development of social policy frameworks should be in consideration of various factors, key of which is the environmental context within which the framework is to be established. The environment can be political and apolitical and the manner in which the policy creator manages relationships can make the different between success and failure. Social policy framework development does not depend on situational aspects at the time of development but rather on the intended long term effects of the created outcomes. In most cases, gender considerations are at the core of all social policy frameworks and finding a way in which gender roles can be incorporated into the social policy frameworks can help to manage the process of implementation more effectively.
While developing a social policy framework the principles of such frameworks could be the first to be considered. Advocacy strategies have to be e developed based on the principles under consideration. For instance, enhancing democracy may be relevant to a large extent where there limited number of people than where the stakeholders are many. Getting the achievable objectives begins with a consideration of the principle of getting universal access to social resources. All the populations of the targeted by the policy framework should be able to access basic education, basic healthcare services, safe drinking water, reproductive healthcare services, and clean sanitation services amongst others (Agyepong & Adjei, 2008). Developing policy frameworks that take this into consideration, or in which the provision of universal social services for all is a key concern, adheres to international development goals for the future.
A good social policy framework would also be founded on the principle that all men and women should have decent working conditions devoid of discrimination or any form of mistreatment. They should also be able to have sustainable livelihoods through provision of employment and enough income for basic sustenance. As much as provision of basic social services is important, it is also essential that citizens or those affected by the social policy frameworks under consideration should be able to take care of themselves and their families continuously. Some of the common societal problems center on poverty and unemployment, which are drivers of ill health, drug and substance abuse and crime. Any social policy framework developed in any of the important areas of education, health and security should therefore emphasize the importance of employment and good remuneration for the tasks people perform. The Overseas Development Institute (2000) described income and employment as the central social concerns, through which people get access to other social services across different federal zones.
Similarly, promoting social protection systems would be considered a guiding principle in the development of social policy frameworks. A good social policy is one which considers security as central to the efficacy of social policy as a whole. It is thus one that safeguards the populations against shocks in the social environment. In the contemporary social systems especially within developing countries, the bulk of the population does not enjoy the benefits of social protection services. On the contrary, formal protection systems are only availed to those who are at the upper end of the societal caste. The rest of the people get their protection from family and friends who strengthen the effectiveness of social welfare across countries. Providing social protection at the societal level eliminates the concept of permanent dependency and also strengthens the local livelihood of the citizens. Overseas Development Institute (2000) opines that the performance of social policy initiative depends on the level of dependency in the society. A good social policy framework stipulates the process through which social protection systems would operate.
In addition to the aforementioned, another principle that has to be considered in the development of a social policy framework is that of fostering social integration. In the social systems, diversity is one of the key attributes of the members. As such, getting a system through which the integration of members can be achieved is paramount in ensuring that the social groupings achieve their objectives. Unification of purpose is a prerequisite for effective performance in whatever dimension a group is to be evaluated in (Overseas Development Institute, 2000). Integration helps in the social system to enhance safety, promote stability and push for justice. Furthermore, concepts such as gender equality and the protection of human rights are all established in integrated social systems. Through combination of objectives, the society finds out the need for improvement and the potential areas of improvement. In this way community participation in social projects is enhanced since integration enhances the possibility of united efforts towards goals achievements.
In retrospect, a good social policy framework would be one that is characterized by the four principles and effective towards its intended objective. Prior to the development of a social policy framework, the policy group should have it in mind that the resultant framework should foster the provision of access to social services, enhance employment and income prospects, foster social protection and enhance social integration. The environmental context for developing the framework contributes a lot to the characteristics of the framework and to its potential to accomplish its desired objectives. In general, the environmental context encapsulates the ideological predisposition underlying the framework’s development, the expertise and training of those involved in the development, remembrance of similar commitments to a given outcome and the loyalties, personal attributes and goals of the developers (Agyepong & Adjei, 2008). The context of policy choice, which should also be considered, is described as the societal pressures resulting in the need for social policy, the economic, historical as well as the international context for policy development, the administrative capacity of the policy developers as well as other problems in policy development.
Following the consideration of principles and the environment in which a social policy framework is to be established, Gen & Wright (2013) recommend that the advocacy strategy for the policy should be aimed towards fostering a democratic environment during and after policy development, remitting the right pressure towards societal issues, directing reforms from within the society towards the needs of the community, influencing decision makers to participate in community based changes and implementing change in the society. Each of these advocacy plans helps to accomplish a different stage of the social policy framework development. This implies that neither of them is wholly effective on its own, rather, those who develop the framework should take the initiative to push through the ideologies to implementation.
Motherhood and Gender, Social Policy and Welfare
Gender roles and the society are inseparable. As a matter of fact, gender roles determine how the society achieves its reproductive, productive and community roles in different ways. Initially, a problem centered approach to social practice. This implied that most of the social policy frameworks and the welfare of the society were addressed when issues arose in each area of communal living (Hill, 2008). In the contemporary times however, this has shifted towards a strength based approach to social work. The difference between the problem based approach and the strength- based approach is that the former focuses on solving already existing problems while the latter focuses on preventing foreseeable problems from occurring. This is where gender roles come in, through which women and more specifically mothers play a crucial role in directing and controlling social policy and welfare. In their community gender based roles, women are recognized as caring, strong and compassionate hence have the power to influence not only decision makers but the society at large towards solving emerging social issues before they wreak havoc.
Motherhood helps in understanding the link between gender, social policy and welfare from the initiation stages through to the implementation of ideas. In the female reproductive role of motherhood, the society gets establishment in the other forms of gender roles. For instance, motherhood increases the population of the community. Those born, depending on their genders will be able to adapt to any of the social roles in the community. Women therefore contribute indirectly to all the decision making in relation to gender roles and subsequently on the social policy and welfare issues in the society. As explained by Ennser –Jedenastik (2011), women are compassionate and caring. These attributes are even stronger in those who have accomplished the motherhood role of feminism. On the other hand, social policy areas which are considered to be at the heart of the state such as education, healthcare and social protection have essentially female traits. For instance, the healthcare sector has many facilities which consider compassion and care as some of the core organizational values. This implies that women, can either participate directly in the policy areas that require those traits or indirectly through their influence on their children. Moreover, the perfect fit between state policy areas and the female attributes makes it easier for women to consider the societal welfare and to come up with social policies that promote the welfare of entire communities.
Naldini (2011) purports that the role of women in the society, is originally based on the traditional gendered role definitions. Although the society has changed significantly in terms of gender equality and social reforms, the women, through their motherhood roles, still play a crucial part of their traditional functions in the society. The care and well being of the society exemplifies their position with regards to requiring social integration, social protection and access to social services for their children and others. The fact that the roles of women have only slightly changed from the traditional outlook implies that the nurturing and guiding role of parenthood, which is associated with women can be replicated at the community level as the mothers engage in community centered projects. The shift in roles has been from the smaller family unit to the larger community based organizations and groupings. Gender plays an important role in the development of such community policies as more women included results in the accomplishment of more tangible results as long as the social policy frameworks align to universal rights and to principles of justice.
The third consideration as to how women contribute to social policy and welfare discussions in the society is on decision making and strong will. Ennser – Jedenastik (2011) reported that women were more strong willed and decisive in their operational activities. In most cases, social policy issues require hands- on strategy to be able to see through. Similarly, some of the social welfare issues that are common in the present days require a strong advocacy strategy that entails persuasion of decision makers, application of pressure to the public and other activities as described by Gen & Wright (2013). Persuasion in this regard is a more female oriented role than a role for men. From a policy document, it is easy for women to influence decision makers due to their compassionate nature. They are also at the heart of their society due to their mothering and nurturing role therein. For these reasons, gender plays a strategic role in the development of social policy frameworks as well as in the implementation (Newman & White, 2012). Any social system that desires to grow beyond its conceptual boundaries engages more women in the decision making processes, not as a matter of law but because of their strong will and tenacity in addressing social issues.
Gender roles contribute immensely in the institution of social policies, addressing social concerns and managing societal expectations in terms of welfare and social roles. The distinctive features of women and mothers by extension, makes it possible for them to influence social decision making activities. It is therefore important to practice gender inclusion in social policy development.
Agyepong, I.A. & Adjei, S. (2008). Public social policy development and implementation: a case study of the Ghana National Health Insurance scheme. Health Policy and Planning, 23 (2), 150 -160. Retrieved from academic.oup.com/heapol/article/23/2/150/593234
Ennser –Jedenastik, L. (2017). Campaigning on the welfare state: The impact of gender and gender diversity. Journal of European Social Policy, 27(3), 215- 228. Retrieved from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5505229/
Gen, S. & Wright, A. C. (2013). Policy advocacy organizations: A framework linking theory and practice. Journal of Policy Practice, 12 (3), 163-193. Retrieved from ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1897&context=sspapers
Hill, K. (2008). A strengths- based framework for social policy: Barriers and possibilities. Journal of Policy Practice, 7(2-3), 106 – 121. Retrieved from www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15588740801937920?src=recsys&journalCode=wjpp20
Naldini, M. (2011). Introduction: Feminist views on social policy and gender equality. Sociologica, 1. Retrieved from www.rivisteweb.it/download/article/10.2383/34626
Newman, J. & White, L. A. (2012). Women, politics, and public policy: The political struggles of Canadian women 2nd Ed. Don Mills: Oxford University Press
Overseas Development Institute (2000). Can there be a global standard for social policy? The ‘social policy principles’ as a test case. ODI Briefing Paper. Retrieved from www.odi.org/sites/odi.org.uk/files/odi-assets/publications-opinion-files/2610.pdf