Although social protection has gained substantial attention in recent years as a development measure and long-term response to poverty and vulnerability, it is also being increasingly criticised for failing to pay adequate attention to differences between social groups and the different problems they face in terms of access and take-up of provisions and services. In this article, we seek to challenge common aspirations and expectations of social protection by considering the specific vulnerabilities of children and their carers from a gender perspective. These include different physical and biological needs, a dependency relationship and institutionalised disadvantage, each with practical implications for the design and implementation of social protection. A discussion of delivery mechanism and conditionality illustrates that an appropriate response to children and their carers should not be based on common assumptions but be multi-dimensional, age- and gender-specific and focus on issues across the spectrum of well-being.
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