Improving Access to Financial and Social Protection for Women and Girls
USAID’s CATALYZE Asia Social Protection activity (ASP) aims to improve access to financial and social protection for women and girls by working with the private sector and local organizations to address the social determinants of health. Many women throughout Asia work either in the informal economy or in industries characterized by precarious employment arrangements (e.g. garment manufacturing). As a result, they typically do not have access to employment-based social protections, face significant risk when incurring health and disability costs, and experience employment insecurity. Using blended finance to mobilize the private sector, promote education, affordability, and sustainability for social protection activities, ASP will develop innovations and opportunities to co-design, test, and implement scalable social protection platforms. Potential activities include workforce development for high school graduates and microfinance solutions for women-owned micro, small, and medium enterprises.
- Improve and promote evidence-based best practices to increase access to social protection for vulnerable women;
- Mobilize private sector resources to engage local stakeholders and promote sustainability;
- Implement cross-sectoral development approaches to address social determinants of health; and
- Monitor the co-designed social protection platforms and assess the impact on education, service use, paid employment, financial resilience, and resulting economic empowerment and health status of vulnerable women to learn from and promote replicability and scale.
ASP is exploring opportunities in three countries: the Philippines, Bangladesh, and Indonesia. ASP along with local USAID Mission staff and the Asia Regional Bureau work closely with local institutions in the three countries to co-design interventions that will enhance access to financial protection for basic health care, education, and employment. Proposed interventions leverage USAID funding to focus on women’s and girls’ health and empowerment and rely on mobilizing private capital in various ways, including through worker contributions, industry support, and social investment. Each country-level activity will have a specific theory of change, geography of implementation, intended beneficiaries, and specific outputs and outcomes.
What We Do
- In the Philippines CATALYZE ASP developed a concept note with the USAID Asia Bureau on improving employment and access to health for Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (national conditional cash transfer program) recipients. In the next stage, ASP will co-create the final intervention design with local government stakeholders, implementers, and employers. Once engaged in the program, low-income graduates will be empowered with employable skills, vital health knowledge and improved access to essential services.
- In Bangladesh, ASP is working closely with the USAID/Bangladesh’s Education office to explore opportunities to support the academic success and wellbeing of high school-aged girls in the higher secondary education sector. By engaging instructors to address girls’ school retention, the project aims to catalyze a cascade of positive health and psychosocial outcomes such as reduced teenage pregnancies and improved nutrition and mental health.
- In Indonesia, the team is exploring opportunities to leverage digital technology to expand Jaminan Kesehatan Nasional (JKN – national health insurance program) coverage for vulnerable and marginalized women. Increasing insurance coverage will protect these populations from future catastrophic health expenses.