Gender-Sensitive Public Works: Literature Review

The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) has contracted OPM to carry out a scoping study and literature review of gender-sensitive public works. This involves collecting good practices and examples from across the globe, as well as identifying potential areas for intervention (and piloting) in Mozambique.

The terms of reference (TOR) for this study required a “desk based literature review of existing gender sensitive public works and of the impacts of public works programmes on gender relations”. In particular, the review’s primary focus should be on “soft public works and on public works with strategies for developing women’s skills, capacity and opportunities to enter the labour market and find sustainable employment or income generation in the future”.

This study is therefore organised as follows. The report starts by providing insights on the main barriers and lifecycle risks faced by (young) women accessing the labour market. It then focus on the potential role of public works in addressing these barriers, illustrating the Conceptual Framework that informs this study. The following section then delves into the three main ‘channels’ through which public works impact on women and girls can be enhanced, alongside a fourth – cross-cutting – institutional channel. Evidence from across a wide range of countries is provided, including insights on impacts achieved and mediating design and implementation factors. Particular depth – including light-touch ‘case studies’ is provided for public works that align with the overall objectives above. A final section draws broad conclusions.

The main contributions of this review include: an innovative Framework, providing a useful framing for future discussion on this topic; a focus on service-oriented public works and innovative forms of programming for skills enhancement.


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