Accepted paper:

Social accountability in social protection for whom?


Maxine Molyneux (University College London)

Paper short abstract:

This paper critically examines new approaches to the administration of poverty in Latin America which involve social accountability measures including rights and citizenship approaches in social protection programming.

Paper long abstract:

In a recent global consultation by the UN to determine post 2015 policies - social protection and social accountability were among the top 4 priorities. While cash transfers now cover several hundred million people, social or downward accountability has only recently been integrated into social protection programming. Donors and governments increasingly see social accountability as a way to meet the Paris commitment to aid effectiveness while there are growing demands from civil society for 'honest responsive governance'. Social accountability is intended to extend the principles of democratic accountability across the various sites of public policy. It is premised on liberal concerns to place checks on administrative power through active citizen participation. Applied to social protection it envisions 'the poor' less as 'beneficiaries' than as rights bearing citizens whose grievances and demands should be heard and acted upon. This paper considers new research from Latin America, a region that has been among the pioneers of these rights and citizen based approaches to the administration of poverty. The evidence provides some insights from a gender perspective into what can be achieved by these approaches in regard to both citizenship and tackling poverty without more profound social and institutional transformations.

panel P21
Challenging gendered instrumentalism in Latin American social policy?