Grassroots women in poor communities are creating their own innovative social protection mechanisms, and often moving beyond this to foster economic growth and prosperity. In this article, we propose an expansion of common understandings of social protection to include these activities initiated by citizens themselves. In this article, we describe strategies being led by grassroots women’s community-based organisations in Kenya, Brazil and Peru, where women’s self-help groups, networks, federations, and supporting NGOs, have been leading and organising livelihoods, health and food security initiatives for the benefit of their members and communities. Many of the objectives of social protection can best be met by creating a social protection framework that recognises and builds on grassroots women’s own initiatives. This would reposition poor women in the social protection debate: recasting them from ‘beneficiaries’, to become active agents of change, and formal partners with government and development agencies.
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