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Gendered Relations and Time-use: Perspectives ... - OVCRE


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ABSTRACT. On meeting education and health targets, conditional cash transfer programs are consistent with their intended development impacts. However, gendered outcomes remain to be in the periphery of the discourse. This paper aims to analyze the gender relations within cash transfer program households, focusing on the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). Through a time-use analysis approach and using qualitative information from in-depth household interviews and observations, the study examines how women grantees use their time and how this reflects gendered elements on intra-household relations.

Results reveal that a) meeting program co-responsibilities have an impact on their household tasks, especially in supporting children’s education and b) despite the transfers, gender and power dynamics within the household remain the same. This research contributes to the ongoing policy discourses on cash transfers and women’s participation.

Keywords: Conditional cash transfers, gender, gender relations, household bargaining, women


1College of Public Affairs and Development, University of the Philippines Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5004-2220 mgalinsunurin@up.edu.ph

Copyright 2021, the Author. Published by UPLB College of Public Affairs and Development.

This is an open access article licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/).

Gendered Relations and Time-use:

Perspectives from Selected Households of Philippines’ Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in Calauan and San Pablo City, Laguna




Cash transfers are social protection strategies, which aim to reduce poverty and meet social protection needs. They can either be unconditional, i.e., where grants are given with no strings attached; or with co-responsibilities, i.e., where recipients are obliged to perform some tasks such as ensuring school attendance of their schoolchildren, pre-natal and health checkups, and capacity building. Some conditional cash transfers have conditions linked to work and savings (Araujo &

Schady, 2006; Manley et al., 2012). In the growing literature evaluating conditional cash transfers, the focus is on improving household welfare and income. The studies usually document positive outcomes on education and nutrition (Fernald et al., 2008).

In the literature, there is a dearth of studies that tackle the effects of conditional cash transfers beyond classical economic theories.

Evidence shows strong influence of cash transfers on raising living standards and human capital (Arnold et al., 2011). This paper seeks to explore the impacts of conditional cash transfers on gender equality and empowerment. Kabeer (1999) argued that with the improvement of the well-being, it is likely that other members of the household sacrifice their time, such as the case for women doing care work. Hence, conditional cash transfer programs may have attained its promised outcomes at the expense of the mothers’ interest.

This paper contributes to bridging the discussion between cash transfers and gendered outcomes through the lenses of household gender relations and time-use. It argues that development programs such as cash transfers involving women have at least had modest effects on their time, especially on tasks that concern children’s welfare. The gender assignment of the transfers is based on strong evidence saying that targeting women as grantees improves their children’s well-being through increased consumption decisions related to welfare (Yoong et al., 2012). Despite this argument, resource transfers to households should recognize the unequal welfare effects to individual household members.

The empirical work on time poverty shows that any income transfer scheme should go beyond increasing real income and focus on

‘household formation and work behavior’ (Vickery, 1977). Normative views of cash transfers see well-being as an outcome of the household’s efforts. This paper takes a different view by arguing that inclusion to programs such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) can


impact on the dimensions of time and division of labor, especially among women. This paper explores this argument using the lens of power. That is, whether the benefits of targeting women as grantees reverse current gender dynamics within the household.

This paper analyzes the effects of cash transfer program participation through a gendered lens on women’s time-use and household labor allocation. It further assesses the time-use of women beneficiaries and the program effects on household gender relations.

It is argued that the receipt of cash grants through women is unable to change prevailing gendered power dynamics, which remains in favor of the male household members.

The paper is divided into six parts. The succeeding section theorizes on the relationship between gender relations and time-use. It is followed by a brief discussion on the theoretical framework and the empirical context of the research. Presentation of the data gathering methodology follows, which focuses mainly on the qualitative approach to understand time-use and gender relations. The analysis of the results is presented, focusing on the themes from the field findings. The paper concludes with some policy recommendations.

Gender Relations and Time-use

Understanding the relationship of gender using the concepts of relations and time-use starts with the recognition that gender affects people’s social lives, particularly how women and men relate to each other.

Many of the workings of the society are initially based on the categorical essentialism of masculinity and femininity that fundamentally determine what men and women are (Yzerbyt et al., 1997). Essentialists assume that these are fixed and immutable (Gelman, 2005). Whether these are based on biological differences or cultural aspects, the relationship of gender and power is based on a social structural approach: that structural variables play an important role in shaping gender relations (Rudman

& Glick, 2012). These gender stereotypes and sex differences generate specific demands on how individuals exhibit traits and behaviors. As women’s roles have been closely linked to domestic and care work, it is of no surprise that they are also targeted on policies relating to welfare and family.

As division of labor becomes more segregated by gender, which favors men to occupy the spaces related to the provision of financial resources to their families, women are pushed back to the traditional


roles within the households (Wehr et al., 2014). In gender literature, this phenomenon is referred to as “feminization of poverty.” That is, women’s disempowerment stems from existing gender divisions and subordination, and the prevailing norms and culture contribute to the lack of agency and resources of women, thus, disempowering them (Pearce, 1978).

The need for the shift in power dynamics in the gendered perspective emanates from the unequal possession of economic and power resources, which dictates household decision making. To this end, women appear to be disadvantaged. Development interventions have responded to this need; thus, programs such as microfinance, livelihood promotion, and in recent years, cash transfers assign responsibilities to women thereby increasing their role in decision making. Over the years, there has been growing evidence of improvement in women’s decision making, which may be positively related to their share of household income (Bernasek & Bajtelsmit, 2002).

Women participation, however, in development programs are not without a cost. These programs assume that women have more time at their disposal, resulting in interventions that increase women’s time on paid and unpaid work (Walker, 2013). It becomes paradoxical when participation places more burden on women, and much more if the gendered assumptions on women’s roles inside the household are left unchallenged. For instance, some studies on women’s access to credit have shown that men still appropriate loans, but women are responsible for the repayment (Goetz & Gupta, 1996). In some cases, women are worse off because of domestic violence (Rahman, 1999).

Time-use and the income generated by women both explain these scenarios relating to the work borne by women. Evidence shows that women take up most of the housework. This observation is true even among developed economies (Ilahi & Bank, 2000; Sayer, 2005). On the other hand, the relationship between income and housework was first established in Becker’s (1962) work on division of labor, where those with higher income focus on market work while those with lower income devote more time on domestic tasks.

However, while bargaining power within the household is based on income and assets (Agarwal, 1997; Quisumbing, 2003), gender identity likewise plays an important role. A recent study on the Filipino context by Bayudan-Dacuycuy and Dacuycuy (2017) mentions that while wages have effects on the wives’ time, these remain to be mediated on


both spouses’ attitudes on gender roles. These attitudes include the traditional prescriptions of “doing gender,” which affirm that men are breadwinners while females are the homemakers.

In the Philippine context, both gender and generational differences have an impact on decision making. Dynamics of children and parents in Filipino households are better understood in terms of reciprocity. That is, children help their parents because their parents took care of them when they were young (Willis, 1982). Several factors are attributed to gender inequality within the household. Among these is women’s altruism as part of ideals of married life, the perception that the nature of domestic work done by women are less demanding and onerous compared with market work where men and boys take the lead, and that childcare is viewed as “sacrifice for leisure” rather than a substitute for market work (Folbre, 1984).

Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps):

The Philippines’ Cash Transfer Program

The 4Ps is a conditional cash transfer program of the Philippine government to break intergenerational poverty by providing education to children and health services for their mothers. The recipients are targeted through an objective poverty assessment. Eligible households either have one pregnant woman or a child aged 0-14. Part of the co- responsibility of the household is the willingness to meet the conditions of the program. A household with three schoolchildren, from elementary to high school, may receive a maximum of PhP 2,000 (USD 38) per month (Orbeta, 2014).

Currently, the program covers 80 provinces in the Philippines, with 4.8 million registered households (Department of Social Welfare and Development [DSWD], 2018b). The implementation of the cash transfer program is led by DSWD. The ministry also partners with the Department of Education and the Department of Health to ensure compliance with the conditions related to school attendance and health, respectively. The Landbank of the Philippines, a government bank, disburses the grants to the beneficiaries using cash cards (Fernandez & Olfindo, 2011).

The program responds to the Sustainable Development Goals on ensuring quality education, promoting decent economic growth, and reducing inequalities. Gendered discussions on 4Ps are focused on

“women’s representation in various sectors and all levels”; thus, they recognize the program’s potential to empower women (Permanent


Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations, 2019). Furthermore, the cash transfer program has instituted a gender mainstreaming approach to ensure that systems, mechanisms, policies, and programs are gender-sensitive (Mendoza, 2019) from the national down to the community level.

DSWD’s gender focus in 4Ps is anchored on existing laws in the Philippines, such as the Anti-Violence against Women and the Magna Carta for Women. Thus, the gender sensitivity workshops that were conducted under this program discussed women’s rights, various forms of abuses which women and children are likely to experience, and awareness on dealing with these scenarios at the household level (PILIPINA, Inc., 2015). However, DSWD also faces capacity gaps in terms of their intended goals on gender mainstreaming, citing infrequent training, and limited in-house experts on gender-related topics (DSWD staff, personal communication, September 12, 2019).

The assignment of cash transfers is based on how the program is designed. In 4Ps’ operations manual, recipients must preferably be the mother responsible for childcare and sending children to school (DSWD, 2012). A father may serve as a recipient only if the mother is absent.

Endeavors to involve male spouses through family development sessions by teaching home management and shared responsibilities yielded anecdotal impacts. This research also discusses the possible impacts on women’s assignment as grant recipients on behalf of their families.

Theoretical Framework

The framework adopted to examine the effect of transfers to time and task allocation is based on the Exchange-bargaining Theory. Theories on exchanges and relations based on economic and sociological models suggest that women can have bargaining power over time depending on the resources they bring into the household (Bittman et al., 2003). The household is an important setting to investigate whether these power inequalities are changed or perpetuated. It is noted that power exists in a situation of cooperation and conflict within the household.

In addition to examining the structure of how income affects household bargaining and relations, this paper also incorporates gender in the analysis. To analyze this, the author adopts Kabeer’s (1994) work on power and agency, which examines how power is exercised between household members. Kabeer (1994) refers to three forms of power:

the "power to" or the ability to make and act on their own life choices;


"power over" or the ability to override the agency of others and to have an influence on things which can be decided or not; and the "power within" or the ability to determine whose interests will prevail.

The paper also incorporates the concept of agency, i.e., whether the transfer of resources enables women to exercise choice in existing relations. Women can have two kinds of agencies: effective agency, which is the ability to make decisions within prescribed roles, or meeting gender interests such as domestic work, childcare health and provision of food; and transformative agency, which is the ability to make decisions that shift prescribed and normative roles in recognition of the fact that women should also have a fallback position, control over resources, and mobility (Molyneux, 1985; Moser, 1989).


Research Location and Research Participants’ Information

This study was conducted among the selected beneficiaries in two locations in Laguna, Philippines, namely: in the Municipality of Calauan (rural) and the City of San Pablo (urban). Pantawid Pamilya started in the Province of Laguna in 2012, and these two locations comprise almost 40% of the beneficiaries in the province (DSWD, 2018a).

Calauan has 17 barangay or villages while San Pablo City has 80.

Nine villages (3 from Calauan, 6 from San Pablo City) were recommended for this study by the DSWD Provincial Link for Laguna. These villages were selected purposively based on the available monthly family development session schedules during fieldwork. It was necessary to conduct household observations to understand the time-use of women related to the program. Of the 9 villages, 2 (one for each location) were selected for the time-use study. The selection of the village was based on the timing of the fieldwork on administering the survey. There were 55 beneficiaries in the two villages, at 95% confidence level; 48 beneficiaries were recruited to participate. However, accounting for attrition, only 40 beneficiaries completed the time-use survey.

The time-use survey, however, only revealed the aggregate hours women spent on paid work, domestic task, and leisure activities.

To further understand the program effects, in-depth household interviews and observations were conducted involving eight households with different economic characteristics. These characteristics were


as follows: households with both spouses working, a household with a male breadwinner, a household with a female breadwinner, and a female-headed household. Two visits were made among participating households. One visit was during a typical weekday and another during the day when they were attending program activities, particularly the family development sessions. Male spouses in 5 out of 8 households were able to participate in the interviews.

Time-use Survey

Time-use surveys are survey instruments used to understand the activities, length of time, and the contextual dimensions of activities relevant to the research’s analytical objectives (Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2005). Time diaries can be recorded in various ways:

they can adopt an open-interval method that records the actual start and end times of various activities; or use the fixed-interval method, which specifies the certain hours where the recording was done. The survey adopted the fixed-interval diary and assumed that the day started at 04:00 and ended at 22:00. This information was based on the pre-testing of time-use surveys, and initial focus group discussions conducted to understand how women utilize their time within the household.

Since the research aimed to understand the gendered division of labor within the household, the analysis and time-use survey focused on the hours where paid and unpaid work were undertaken. The classification of paid and unpaid work was based on the International Classification of Activities for Time Use (ICATUS) and the work of Sayer (2005). In Sayer (2005), it is mentioned that a) paid work is employment or employment-related activities (or forms of support to paid work), plus corresponding travel time; b) unpaid work refers to housework, childcare, and shopping, plus travel time; and c) for unpaid work-related to cash transfers, meeting program requirements such as meetings, volunteer work, and visiting health clinics were included (Parker &

Skoufias, 2000; Maluccio & Flores, 2004; Attanasio & Mesnard, 2006).

Time spent on accessing funds was included as unpaid work but analyzed in the narratives as part of the work women undertake to fulfill program responsibilities. Self-care time includes eating, grooming, sleeping, and leisure time on socializing, mass media, religious, and other community activities.


Research Design and Limitations

The research adopts a qualitative case study research design.

Through an explanatory case approach, which seeks to explain

“how”/“why” a phenomenon occurs (Yin, 2014), this research investigates the relationship between conditional cash transfer participation and gendered outcomes. This approach requires the use of different data gathering strategies. The time-use survey complements the qualitative approaches that were used in this study. Owing to the nature of the research design, the results of this study cannot be generalized to all beneficiaries of the cash transfer program.

The number of participants to the time-use survey and the rather few male spouses available for interview posed a limitation to the research’s aim to gather more empirical data. As a novel and alternative way to gauge the impact of women’s participation, future researchers may expand the use of time-use surveys to investigate women’s work as a lens that provides an opportunity to advance future studies.


Normatively, one of the aspects which time-use surveys attempt to measure is the valuation of non-market activities to reflect gendered dimensions. The purpose of the time-use survey for this study is to examine whether home management is shared by spouses who participate in 4Ps. Table 1 shows the distribution of hours spent on various activities among surveyed households. The total number of hours may not be 24 as the survey focused on the researcher-specified hours within the day. Also, some respondents identified two domestic tasks done at the same time (e.g., cooking while cleaning the house).

Cash transfer programs, such as 4Ps, attempt to reverse this scenario by educating beneficiary families of the value of shared responsibility. This aspect is informed and disseminated through the family development sessions. Recently, impact on household relations was assessed through the beneficiaries’ feedback on the knowledge gained regarding gender roles within the household, or through the improvement of marital relationships (Engracia, 2015; Sanchez et al., 2018). However, this current research, investigated through the lens of time-use, has found that most domestic tasks are still carried out by women. It runs consistent with the prevailing scenarios in the gendered






Women Men Women Men

Paid work 4.275 7.781 2.700 8.469

Kitchen work 3.175 0.010 3.025 0.030

Cleaning/Care for house

or property 1.575 1.000 1.525 1.167

Care for family members 3.825 0.600 4.400 0.500

Shopping or buying 0.037 Not

determined 0.325 Not determined

Leisure time 2.089 Not

determined 2.004 Not determined Table 1. Mean daily hours spent by beneficiaries on various activities, by gender and by area of research

division of labor. Hence, it calls for a more apparent gendered aim for development programs to examine to what extent shared responsibility needs to be observed at the household level.

Another related aspect of women participation in the cash transfer program is that despite the receipt of the grant and their husbands’ income, most of them still engage in income-generating activities. This situation creates a scenario of ‘double day’ for women.

Among the reasons women continue to engage in work is the inadequacy of the transfer to cover household expenses.

One of the study’s limitations was establishing the baseline in terms of paid work before membership into the cash transfer program.

However, the research participants did not report a reduction in time devoted to paid work during the interviews. In the Philippines’

conditional cash transfer program, the impact on the adult labor force remains unexplored. From this research, it was found that the beneficiaries continued with their usual income generating activities.

This is contrary to the notion that the transfers promote laziness among recipients propagated by the critics of the program.


Effects of Program Co-responsibilities on Women’s Time-use The main program activities that women-interviewees identified were attending family development sessions, complying with regular health checks, visiting banks to access cash grants, and participating in barangay or community-led activities. These are more than the required activities that they are expected to take part: school attendance, health checkups for pregnant women, and vaccinations of children below five years old, and attend the family development sessions (DSWD, 2019).

Women usually exchange their time devoted to paid work to accommodate program-related tasks based on the comparison of women’s time-use in between two household visits. Program activities usually take 2-3 hours. Afternoons are also supposed to be their free time from household chores (before their children arrive from school or their spouses from work). They also use the same time to do income- generating activities.

More than half of the women interviewed owned and managed their small home-based enterprises while others were engaged in paid work outside of their household. These home-based women run, usually on their own, a small store known as sari-sari (variety) store or small- scale retailing shops. They usually close their shops when they need to participate in program-related activities.

Most of the respondents in the survey attended family development sessions in the afternoon. Figures 1 and 2 show the difference between regular days (i.e., days when they have no program obligations) and non-normal days (i.e., when they attend program commitments). Although non-normal days do not occur often, such activities create compromises within the household.

Despite forgone income being insignificant since most of the activities were only carried out at most twice or thrice a month, women highlighted that the program is more biased to their time as compared with other household members. As a matter of policy, other members of the household could only attend on the beneficiaries’ (mothers usually) behalf twice. Although male household members can also be program grantees, most male spouses are assumed to be focusing on their paid work.


Figure 1. Comparison of time devoted to paid work of urban women beneficiaries

Figure 2. Comparison of time devoted to paid work of rural women beneficiaries


Despite the pressure to always be present in meetings, it is also interesting to note how women perceive the time spent on these activities. In their perspective, this time was considered as ‘leisure time’

while away from the house:

“For us, rest (or leisure) means we are able to go out of the house, being able to bond with other women… Those times when we forget our tasks and problems… So even if we are attending 4Ps meetings, what is important is that we are able to go out.” (Respondent interview, Barangay Dayap, Calauan, January 2019)

The program’s impact on women’s time was frequently cited in the discussion of domestic tasks during the interviews. Although most women delegate household chores to other family members, usually to their daughters, during their absence due to program co-responsibilities, the co-responsibilities themselves have shaped the magnitude of the domestic tasks they undertake daily. For instance, the most commonly mentioned motivation to join the program was to ensure that their children are able to go to school, i.e., more than the receipt of cash grants.

Women-interviewees reported having increased their tasks related to the needs of their schoolchildren. They said that schoolchildren have more demands for care work than their other siblings who are not studying.

Despite the gendered nature of household labor, work-related to education, for example, is not labeled as a feminine task. Women themselves still do school-related tasks within the households. In addition, they felt that they are the only ones responsible for their children’s education. For example, mothers spend more time helping their children do their school tasks than their fathers.

Aside from school-related tasks, women also devoted more time attending to children’s nutrition and health, as the school checks on the children’s food intake. The findings also suggest investing more time in these activities, which contributed to enhancing the welfare of the children.

Analysis of Household Gender Relations

Themes on gender relations emerged during the conduct of observations and in-depth interviews among selected beneficiary households. The observations conducted include relations with their spouses and children. The distribution of themes and categories are shown in Table 2.


Gendered Power Dynamics within the Household

Interview findings under this theme show how power influences gender relations within the household. Ideally, cash transfer programs assume that transferring resources to women means that increased investments to well-being will occur and aim to improve their position within the household. Three subthemes were noted under this theme.

Power Dependence. Most of the beneficiary households still consider the male spouses as the primary breadwinner because of the level of income that they bring into the household. Some beneficiaries mentioned that the transfer they receive are pooled with Table 2. Thematic analysis of narratives on household gender relations


Gendered Power

Dynamics Power-dependency


Gender display

Men as breadwinners; women’s economic dependence reflected on the duty to provide care Cash grants are not attributable to decision-making

Men and women having equal paid work; supporting women in domestic tasks, vice versa Income considered as shared earnings

High association of domestic tasks as feminine tasks Gender roles emphasized over resource contribution

Women’s Bargaining Motives



Women’s renewed aspirations for children

Bargaining for children’s welfare

Care reciprocity between children and parents Gendered expectations on children

Source: Authors’ analysis and as cited from Agarwal (1997) and Bittman et al. (1994)


the breadwinner’s income, thereby diminishing the possible influence of women on decisions concerning how to spend the cash grant. For women who have their own paid work, they perceive their income as a supplement to their husbands’ earning and usually do not use it as a way to command a specific household position.

The existing relations of households falling into the theme of power dependence remains binary. Most women willingly ‘exempt’

their husbands on performing household work. From the household observations, male spouses rarely do tasks that support schoolchildren, even if the tasks are neither feminine nor masculine (e.g., helping on school projects, accompanying children to school).

Elenai says that she deserves rest for the things she is doing for the family, especially when she had to stay at home more because of the children. When asked if her husband does some domestic work, she said he usually helps with cleaning the dishes in the evening or helps put the children to sleep while she is still wrapping up some domestic tasks. But she said this is done out of his own initiative, and she rarely imposes on him. Even if the program teaches that men should also perform household work, for Elena, it cannot be forced. (Respondent interview, Barangay Masiit, Calauan, January 2019)

Gendered divisions remain high within the household, especially among families where women do not engage in paid work.

Women’s positions continue to remain unchallenged when men continue to occupy the space of generating income despite the program’s aim to educate households on shared responsibility.

Exchange-bargaining. A different situation was observed among households where both spouses were income earners. When the contribution of both spouses is perceived as equal, household spouses experience an equal share of domestic work; however, less can be attributed to the program itself, since this norm has been in place even before their membership to the cash transfer program.

Interviews reveal that male spouses are also supportive of the program’s membership under this type of household relation. The equal sharing of burden has further reinforced their joint role to ensure their children’s welfare, which means that fulfilling program conditions must not be perceived as women’s sole responsibility.


Gender Display. If development program involving women believe that empowerment is achieved through resource control, gender display explains why certain household patriarchal norms remain unchallenged despite women’s increased contribution to income. This scenario is not uncommon even to households with women being the income earner. Brines (1993) proposed the concept of “gender display,”

i.e., even in cases when men tend to earn less, men are able to maintain their traditional gender roles of being in control.

When asked if her husband helps in doing some household tasks, Lanii said that his attitude changed when he was out of job. When he was working as a market porter, he used to help, even after work, in cleaning in the evening.

When he had back injury and was advised to stay home, she said his attitude changed. Lani thought it was out of his frustration of being physically unable to work. When the household qualified for the cash transfer, she thought it would give him a more positive outlook. (Respondent interview, Barangay Dolores, San Pablo City, December 2018)

Women’s Bargaining Motives

Women’s Altruism. The altruistic attitude of women was mentioned as among the reasons they take a lower bargaining power in the household (Bardasi & Wodon, 2010; Radel et al., 2017). Usually, their altruism is most evident through the burden of care for their children.

Their participation in the cash transfer program further shaped their aspirations for their children.

Most women-interviewees said that they initiated to participate in the cash transfer program, because they wanted their children to have a better future by ensuring that they stay in school. Some participants who were not supported by their male spouses on their decision to participate owned up the cost of their decision. An example of which is giving up some of their time to send their children to school. Women’s persistence to ensure that their children stay in school reflects their altruism and commitment to the program.

The women think that sending children to school will increase their bargaining power with their male spouses. However, for some households, it was hardly the case:


Madeli mentioned that she negotiated with her in-laws because her husband told her to be solely responsible for her participation in the conditional cash transfer program. She said that her husband acts like he has nothing to do with tasks related to the program. When one of their children asked for money for a school project, her husband told their child that she should get that from their mother who is enrolled in 4Ps. (Respondent interview, Barangay San Nicolas, San Pablo City, December 2018)

Women’s Self-interests. Despite the power inequalities between men and women spouses, women-interviewees seemed to have exhibited self-interests with their children. Despite their altruism, women also tell their children to help with household tasks. While this may be seen as a way to prepare their children to be independent, this may also lead to care reciprocity among their children, especially their daughters:

Rosai admits that her eldest daughter is of great help to her in doing domestic chores, especially when she attends to program commitments. She feels confident that even though she’s away, everything will be in order at home.

While this is the case, Rosa wants her daughter to go back to school. The issue, however, is that her daughter leans more towards finding a job. Her daughter is worried that Rosa might not be able to manage on her own if she goes back to school. (Respondent interview, Barangay San Nicolas, San Pablo City, January 2019)

Relying on daughters for household unpaid work reflects gendered notions that domestic tasks remain in the domain of women or girls, even among children. Although some parents who also say that their sons also help in doing domestic work, mothers would automatically assign these tasks to their daughters (or other female household members), and sons are entitled to their own leisure time.

Analyses on the Three Forms of Power

Households remain to be an institutional area of power relations.

Cash transfers are no different from other women-led programs which aim to reverse these asymmetries between gender, by giving more roles


and responsibilities to women. To discuss the interview findings, we turn to the conceptual framework of the typologies of power relations within the household.

Analyzing the narratives, the women’s participation in the conditional cash transfer program impacts gendered power relations in three ways. First, the women’s ability to decide or the “power to” is evidenced by maintaining or increasing their agency to decide for their children’s well-being. It is the direct impact of the program’s focus on education and health. However, when focusing on the women’s ability to influence decisions (“power over”) and their power to determine and carry out their interests (“power within”), the cash transfer as a social protection strategy does not seem to have achieved significant strides.

“Power To”: Increasing Women’s Agency for Children’s Well-being. Women can make their own decisions regarding their participation in the program. These are mostly driven by their intention to improve their children’s well-being, mainly through education. The respondents’ narratives show that they somehow successfully comply with the program conditions and spend more activities related to their children’s welfare, and have time for themselves as they bond with other women. Although they are met with the difficult task of bargaining with their husbands, relatives, and even children, the results show that women exercised their agencies through their participation in the cash transfer program.

“Power Over”: Existing Divisions in Decision Making. The aspect of individual decision making is only reflective of the areas in which decisions are made but does not show the broader structure as to how each party influences each other. Kabeer (1994) mentions that the power of decision making should also lie on the ability to confine things as what can be decided or not. Women narratives have shown that the patriarchal structure still prevails in some households, and the men’s domain remains where women have no influence. Although women can bargain for their time, men remain distant to the gender expectations of the program and the household in general. Some women are faced with hard bargains between their husbands, especially when it comes to stepping in for domestic work to fulfill their program commitments.

Rather than seeing a scenario of cooperation, women choose not to mind their husbands’ activities, especially their leisure time, so that they can negotiate a fair agreement to their requests.


“Power Within”: Long Way Towards Transformation. Women narratives captured in this study show that much of the traditional societal structures remain in place. While the transfer provides relief to the household, as long as it does not shift power dynamics within it, women will continue to play subordinate roles. However, institutions outside the household also reinforce such a scenario. For example, the market and the state continue to consider care work as a feminine task. Thus, efforts towards women empowerment cannot be effectively translated within the household and vice-versa.


This research was able to gain insights on the hours spent on paid, unpaid, and leisure activities among the beneficiaries. It also sheds light on how the cash transfer program influenced bargains and coalitions within the household. This research has also shown the extent in which women can bargain in the household due to their program participation.

The cash transfer program has increased women’s agency related to their children’s welfare. However, this agency represents a short-term impact and does not indicate a shift of power and position in the household. Social norms and traditional gender structures within the household translates the program into a feminized burden, rather than an empowering tool for women.

The study also shed light on how to understand time-use qualitatively. The numbers may show that women have more work hours than most household members. However, the numbers do not reflect the true value of their time and their aspirations. In the same way, co- responsibilities within the cash transfer program may enable households to choose better for their children’s welfare. However, they may also further compromise women’s position in the household. It is expected that more interrogation and discussion is warranted on how they can use this time to their advantage and for their households’ welfare.

The research’s recommendations point to how social protection policies, such as cash transfer programs, may become gender transformative. Current evidence shows that 4Ps responds to the practical needs of women and children. However, it falls short on being transformative in terms of women’s position within their family and community. The research calls for a renewed view on the gendered


aspects of development, i.e., that they are more than just passive recipients; rather, they are active actors that help carry out development goals.

Furthermore, it has to be acknowledged that while interventions such as income transfer do affect normative aspects of consumption and household choices, they also have unintended consequences on gender.

The study results show that inequalities persist despite increased roles and responsibilities for women-beneficiaries, thus, requiring policy design to be proactive in responding to these realities.

Conditional cash transfer’s "maternalist" approach undermines the roles of men in taking an active role in human capital formation.

Tasks related to education and health should not be necessarily gendered. Hence, the program is in the right position to send this message to participating households. Although interventions through the family development session have encouraged equal responsibilities in performing household tasks, it should as well be reflected within the co-responsibilities of the program.


This study was made possible through the doctoral funding from the Japanese Government (Monbukagakusho: MEXT) Scholarship.


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The study was reviewed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development of the Government of the Philippines. The ethical approval was given through its Policy Research and Planning Division in July 2018.

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. The author declared that she has no conflict of interest.


i The respondents' name were replaced to respect their privacy.

Mga Sanggunian


In addition, November 2 Friday was declared as an additional special non-working day in order to provide more time for families to observe the traditional commemorative activities of