Digital Cash Transfers in Times of COVID-19

Opportunities and considerations for women's inclusion and empowerment

Around the world, women are being hit hard by the economic impacts of COVID-19 (coronavirus). As the fallout from the pandemic deepens, so do the short and longer term effects on women's empowerment. The insecurity and lack of social protection that characterize informal, temporary, unpaid labor put millions of women and their families at extreme risk. If these risks are not actively addressed, the COVID-19 crisis is likely to widen already existing gender inequalities, including the loss of livelihoods, threats to sexual and reproductive health, the burden of care, and increased violence against women at home. 

In 2019, a consortium of social protection, gender equality, and digital payments experts developed a three-pronged framework – Digitize, Direct, Design (D3) – aimed at enhancing women’s economic empowerment through cash transfers. The D3 framework offers a bold, experience- and evidence-based vision for accelerating pathways to inclusion and empowerment of women through cash transfers. Digitization of transfers may not be possible for all countries to do easily and quickly. But for those governments that already have digital infrastructures in place, or are starting to design and implement them, this brief will advise them on how to digitize cash transfers in ways that proactively empower women and support their inclusion.

About this Publication

By Jamie Melissa Zimmerman, Maria May, Elizabeth Kellison & Jeni Klugman