There is growing recognition that experiences of poverty and vulnerability are multidimensional and vary widely. Of the five poverty traps identified in the Chronic Poverty Report, four were non-income measures: insecurity, limited citizenship, spatial disadvantage, and social discrimination (CPRC, 2008). Experiences of poverty traps vary depending on gender, age, ethnicity, caste, religion and location, affecting not only the
extent and type of poverty experienced, but also shaping the root causes of poverty. Recognising differential experiences of poverty and vulnerability is therefore vital for programmes supporting trajectories out of poverty.
In recent years, social protection has become an important strategy to address chronic poverty and reduce risk and vulnerability among poor households. To date, however,
social protection has largely dealt with economic protection, namely, shocks and chronic poverty of an economic nature. Social risks, such as gender inequality, domestic violence
and social discrimination at the community, household and intrahousehold level, have largely been absent from the broader social protection debate. In reality economic and
social risks are deeply intertwined.
This chapter - in Chant, S. (Ed) (2010)The International Handbook of Gender and Poverty: Concepts, Research, Policy -focuses on why greater attention to the gendered dynamics of both economic and social risks is critical for harnessing the potential of social protection to reduce gender inequalities and promote gender empowerment.