Identities that add up or identities that remain?: an analysis of the subject of social protection in peru from the capabilities approach.

Buenaño Ramírez, Evelyn Alexandra (1,2) (2018). 'Identities that add up or identities that remain?: An analysis of the subject of social protection in Peru from the capabilities approach.' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Buenos Aires, Argentina 2018.


    The research on Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programs play a relevant role in the paradigm of human development because these policies constitute a reference in the design of social policies in Latin America and the Caribbean. Since the end of the 90’s, they have been implemented in a systematic way in more than 17 countries and with approximately a 19% of the population taking part in them.  The CCT programs keep a similar "formula" despite the ethnic, political, cultural and social diversity of the target population and the complexity of the problems of poverty, exclusion and inequality: conditioning modest transfers of money to compliance with certain care obligations towards children at home. It is often assumed that these programs have both a significant impact on the reduction of monetary poverty and a high degree of incidence in the approximation of public services to the poorest. As it is clear, these programs are based on women's unpaid care work, defend a universalist conception of the "mother woman" and childhood, place the responsibility of poverty on the family and reduce the conceptualization of poverty to a problem of monetary income.

    This paper reconstructs and evaluates the normative frameworks that constitute the social protection policy aimed at the poor population in Peru (especially the CCT program "Juntos"), using both the capability approach and feminist theory as evaluative frameworks. Considering that in Peru, more than 50 percent of the 6.5 million people in a situation of income poverty live in cities, we will discuss whether the logic on which this CCT is founded and its subject of social protection are effective means to ensure "leaving no one behind” and reduce inequalities, exclusions and poverty levels as they are configured in urban regions. “Juntos” represent an interesting example to analyze because, despite changes in government and political orientation, they have been consolidated, despite some internal reforms, as effective instruments for poverty reduction and social protection of the poorest members of Peruvian society. In this sense, it is interesting how certain elements and ascribed identities remain independent of the balance of political power.

    This analysis will take as reference, in addition to the central elements proposed by Amartya Sen (1990), the affiliation capability that Martha Nussbaum (2000) has highlighted as one of the central capabilities that must be ensured for human flourishing. Furthermore, the inclusion of feminist theory in the analysis of this capability will allow to recognize how the different identities of the beneficiaries of the CCT program (women, mother, indigenous, poor, etc.) interact as narratives and stereotypes in the configuration of the subject of social protection.

    This framework will try to provide answers to the following questions:  How are the identities of the subject of social protection configured? Which identities contribute to the development of capabilities and which reduce freedoms?

    The paper has four sections. In the first, contextualize the policy and analyzes the global results that are proposed, paying attention to the processes it raises and the final results that are intended to be achieved. The second section identifies those identities that are strictly defined in the program and assigned by the State to the recipients of the policy, related to gender, ethnicity, age and territorial origin. The third section analyzes the conditions provided by the program so that the social protection subject has the capability to choose and / or reconfigure their membership to these identities and assume the status of agent of their own development. Finally, we discuss the impact of the program on the elimination (or not) of the factors that reduce the freedoms of women and girls who are the recipients of the policy.       

scroll to top