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Shaping a stronger Oxfam for people living in poverty.


The regional program “Equitable and Inclusive Social Protection (SP) for the Marginalized Informal Workers in ASEAN” focuses on increasing effectiveness of national advocacy for more inclusive social protection frameworks. The program enrolls in the thematic “Decent Work” and its strategic objective is “To promote decent work for sustainable, equitable, solidarity and inclusive development” across the South East Asia region. The program supports marginalized workers to organize and participate in social dialogue to demand equitable access to social protection systems. The program has an important focus on women and youth – not only because there are agents of change, but also because they represent a significant number of marginalized workers in Mekong region. We are working with 15 partners in 3 countries (Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam), with 1 regional network (AMRC) and supported by 2 stakeholders (MMN and Street Net).


One of the most important drivers of economic development in ASEAN has been the integration of women in the labour market. In 2015, the average female labour force participation rate in Southeast Asian countries was close to 67%[1], a trend that is continuously growing. Economic gains, however, have not often translated into equal opportunities for women and men and economic development has not necessarily translated into women empowerment. In contrast to the economic development, over the past two decades, inequality and poverty have been raising in many ASEAN countries. Low wages, precarious and insecure work, weak labour rights enforcement, unequal access to resources and services, lack of social protection, are contributing to the widening of the gap between the rich and the rest. Women are the hardest hit by the extreme inequality. They are the lowest paid, most precarious and unsafe at work..

They also remain largely responsible for other responsibilities such as unpaid care and domestic work (UCDW), which is most significant during their reproductive years but remains unequal across the life-cycle. These responsibilities are a major contribution to society, yet remain widely unrecognized. Gender roles dictate that this contribution is natural to women and therefore not work. They are primarily responsible for the wellbeing of their children and other family members while continuing to perform most of the household and domestic work. This disproportionate responsibility for childcare and unpaid care work, rooted in the continued practice of traditional gender roles and patriarchy, results in women having less time for paid work (resulting in loss of income or loss of labour opportunities), lower ability to save or contribute to social security and therefore access benefits such as pensions or sick leaves, and less access to decent and dignified work. Women in Asia and the Pacific work the longest hours in the world. On average, women in the region spend 4.1 times more time in unpaid care work than men[2].

Furthermore, ILO reports that 64 per cent of women workers in the region are in informal employment. The need for flexible arrangements between home and paid work drive women to look for jobs that are accommodating and therefore, become employed in the informal sector which offer flexibility, but at the cost of vulnerable conditions of work and pay[3]. This not only affects women’s immediate incomes but also their future economic security as it reduces women’s contributions to social security, and the accumulation of assets and wealth.[4] Globally, only 26.4% of women of working age are covered by a contributory pension scheme.[5] This makes them poorer and more vulnerable in old age than men and often means that they need to continue in paid work for longer to meet their basic needs.

Additionally, despite their contribution to ASEAN’s development, women are among those who have the least access to social protection benefits. Being mostly employed in the informal economy they occupy the most vulnerable jobs, and most of the time gain their income as self-employed workers. Despite high economic growth across the Asia-Pacific region, only 37,9 % of its population has effective access to at least one social protection provision. ESCAP estimates that 66% of mothers with new-borns do not have maternity protection in Asia and the Pacific.

Care and gender responsive social protection: There is a need for social protection schemes that acknowledge the care contingencies that occur in individuals’ lives, such as family care or the upbringing of children, and that address them by providing transfers in cash or in kind to persons in need of care or to unpaid carers. These benefits are in connection with the costs of pregnancy, childbirth and adoption, disability and long-term care, bringing up of children and caring for other family members. Social protection schemes can also be effective tools to address and change gender norms related to care, for instance paternity leaves can be an incentive for fathers to take the leave and for employers to recognize that pregnancy does not affect only their female workers, which in turn changes gender roles around parenthood and in the workplace. In addition to leave policies and care services, social protection benefits related to care include tax rebates and cash-for-care transfers, as well as cash transfer programmes and employment programmes with a specific care component, such as those supporting permanence within or re-entry to the labour force of persons with family responsibilities (for instance, public work programmes).

The COVID-19 crisis has not only pushed women back into their care roles while losing their jobs and incomes, but also has a negative impact on women’s ability to re-enter the labour market as male workers – in their role as bread winners- will likely be given priority to take up new jobs when the economy recovers.


Oxfam in Cambodia is seeking a consultant to write a policy paper on unpaid care and domestic work (UCDW) and Social Protection. This assignment will support Oxfam’s ASEAN influencing strategy building on the unfolding collaboration between Oxfam and ASEAN Secretariat on issues of UCDW since 2019.

In 2020, Oxfam presented a policy brief on Addressing Unpaid Care and Domestic Work in ASEAN to the ASEAN Secretariat, proposing a series of recommendations for the members states. As a result, UCDW is considered as a key priority to be addressed by the ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW) in their next five years plan, presenting an opportunity for further engagement and influencing.

The role of gender responsive social protection in addressing UCDW is widely recognised, however it continues to be widely ignored at all levels of policy: in statements of policy intent, in implementation, and in outcomes. The link between social protection and UCDW is currently overlooked and deserves far greater attention in national and regional women empowerment discussions, hence the need for this paper.

The overall aim of the paper is to provide a better understanding of the link and role of gender responsive social protection in addressing UCDW, and to propose a series of policy recommendations for ASEAN member states. It aims to make the case for social protection schemes that can more effectively address UCDW, and highlight how various policy options and tools can help advance the 4R framework[6]: recognise, reduce, redistribute and represent UCDW. The paper will provide evidence and support advocacy efforts towards ACW and ASEAN Secretariat, which are the main target audience for this paper.


A brief methodology is proposed below to support applicants with the development of the budget proposal. Note that the methodology can be adapted.

o Desk review of relevant literature, research, and other resources published by Oxfam, international and national agencies, civil society and others, and research of practices implemented by countries.

o Key informant interviews with technical experts if necessary (e.g. Oxfam, ILO, etc.)


Based on desk research and consultancies with experts, the specific scope of this study should be comprised into two main sections covering at least the following information:

1. Overview and understanding of Gender Responsive Social Protection, UCDW and how social protection can address UCDW

1.1. What is gender responsive social protection? What is the importance of gender responsive social protection for women in formal and informal economy in ASEAN?

1.2. What is UCDW? How does UCDW hinder women’s labor participation, economic empowerment and gender equality, looking at various aspects such as time poverty, informal work and lack of safety nets during the life cycle and the perpetuation of harmful gender norms?

1.3. Overall data on UCDW in ASEAN and budget expenditure on social protection schemes that address UCDW in ASEAN. What’s the contribution of UCDW to ASEAN economy?

1.4. What role does gender responsive social protection play in addressing UCDW? What is the link between social protection and UCDW and the contribution social protection can make towards the recognition, reduction and redistribution and representation of UCDW?

1.5. What social protection schemes are most suited to address UCDW, taking into account the 4R framework?

2. Policy actions and recommendations

2.1. What are the key principles that should be taken into account when designing gender responsive social protection schemes that can address UCDW?**

2.2. What good practices exist in the region or beyond that can be replicated? Showcase some practical examples and case studies of social protection interventions that successfully address UCDW.

2.3. What are the key policy options and recommendations that ASEAN member states must take into account when developing social protection and UCDW interventions?

Note that the scope of work can be adapted based on the consultant’s proposal.


The expected results are as follows:

  1. A paper (~25 pages) with findings containing the information highlighted above.

  2. A policy brief of max. 4 pages concisely summarizing the issue, the policy options and recommendations.


Target Due Dates

Inception meeting with Oxfam: 1 April 2021

Submission of the 1st draft paper covering the information highlighted above: 16 April 2021

Submission of the 2nd draft paper and policy brief draft : 23 April 2021

Submission of the final paper and policy brief: 30 April 2021


The duty station is homebased and will not require travel.


The deliverables under this contract shall be completed within 1 month (30 days), after the signing of the contract.


The applicants are required to prepare a detailed financial proposal including consultancy fees, and other related/needed costs.


The consultant will work closely with and under day-to day guidance of the Regional Policy Coordinator for Social Protection based in Oxfam in Cambodia to fulfil the objectives of this consultancy.


· Solid understanding of gender equality and feminist approaches

· Relevant experience in the field of social protection, labour rights, economic policies, and legal reforms,

· Experience researching on unpaid care and domestic work and social protection

· A robust methodological background in a range of research tools;

· Proven track record in carrying out and publishing research in the areas of social protection, labour rights, women economic empowerment, gender, unpaid care and domestic work

· Solid understanding of international standard on social protection, gender equality and women empowerment;

· Solid understanding of the ASEAN and its members states’ political/legal context

· Experience in carrying out reviews of laws and policies;

· Demonstrated high awareness working in multi-cultural environment or development sector


· Eager and required to adhere to Oxfam’s principles and values (click here) as well as the promotion of gender justice and women’s rights (click here).

· Understanding of and commitment to adhere to equity, diversity, gender, child safety and staff health and wellbeing principles.


· Ability to demonstrate sensitivity to cultural differences and gender issues, as well as the commitment to equal opportunities.

· Ability to demonstrate an openness and willingness to learn about the application of gender/gender mainstreaming, women’s rights, and diversity for all aspects of development work.

· Commitment to Oxfam’s safeguarding policies to ensure all people who come into contact with Oxfam are as safe as possible.


· Accountability – Our purpose-driven, results-focused approach means we take responsibility for our actions and hold ourselves accountable. We believe that others should also be held accountable for their actions.

· Empowerment – Our approach means that everyone involved with Oxfam, from our staff and supporters to people living in poverty, should feel they can make change happen.

· Inclusiveness – We are open to everyone and embrace diversity. We believe everyone has a contribution to make, regardless of visible and invisible differences.


[2] Care work and care jobs for the future of decent work, International Labour Office, Geneva, ILO, 2018.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Time to care. Unpaid and underpaid care work and the global inequality crisis, Oxfam International, January 2020

[5] Economic and Social Policy Brief: Gender Gaps in Social Protection, International Trade Union Confederation (2018). ITUC. Available at…

[6] The 4R framework summarises key steps that need to be taken by governments, civil society organisations and businesses to redress the balance and relieve women’s heavy share of unpaid care work, freeing up their time for other pursuits. The 4R is based on 4 R: Recognise that unpaid care work is mainly done by women, acknowledge it as work; . Reduce the total number of hours that need to be spent on unpaid care tasks; Redistribute unpaid care work within the household**; Represent** caregivers effectively in design and decision-making.

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