4Ps: Disempowering women

4Ps: Disempowering women – CWR study

“While it correctly targeted the poorest of the poor, 4Ps or CCT creates a culture of dependence; and this dependence is disempowering,” according to the latest study of the Center for Women’s Resources (CWR), a research and training institution.

Conducting research studies on women since 1982, CWR has released its latest study on 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) or Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT). This is the first of a series in monitoring the impact of the program. “In the midst of the on-going debate whether the program is alleviating poverty or not, CWR decided to go directly to the beneficiaries themselves. We want to know their views and the results are interesting,” explains CWR executive director Jojo Guan.

One hundred women (100), all of whom are parent beneficiaries of the program, participated in a one-on-one interview, conducted from April till mid-July. The respondents are from 18 barangays in the cities of Manila, Pasig, Muntinlupa and Malabon; and from the municipalities in Sorsogon, Camarines Norte, Nueva Vizcaya, Negros and Mindoro.

The study explains that while the program has reached out to indigent families, the program has so far been palliative as it did not create jobs or livelihood opportunities for its beneficiaries. A large majority or 59% of the women respondents have no income at all. At best, 4Ps/ CCT has given them money that is being used for the family’s everyday needs. Most or 37.7% of the respondents said that they spend the money received for food while 16% allots the cash for health and only 10% for educational needs.

“The program is a dole out plain and simple. The families go through the motion of having check up at the health center and get certification from the school just to fulfill the requirements of the program, not so much because they believe that having check up or getting education should be a regular family activity. Once the program is stopped, chances are they would again stop visiting the health center and stop sending their children to school in order to help in providing income to the impoverished family,” says Cham Perez, CWR senior researcher and sociologist.
This observation has been validated by a physician in one of the health centers involved in the CCT program. Requesting anonymity, the doctor reveals that mothers have still a low level of appreciation in going to the health centers because the centers lack medicines and other amenities needed by the indigent families. “It is frustrating to prescribe a medicine when you know that the patient could not afford to buy it,” the doctor shares. She adds that instead of dole out, the poor can benefit more when there is an increased government budget for free medicines.

According to the study, while there is the maximum amount of Php1400 budget per family for a month, the actual distribution and amount received varies. “It defeats the objective of being pantawid since there are unexplained varied schedule of distribution and dissimilar cash allotments. Others get lesser while some get the cash in bulk,” reveals Perez. There is a perceived arbitrariness or lack of transparency in the process of selection, delisting and deciding on the amount that a family would receive, depending on the performance and attendance of the beneficiaries.

“The conditionalities like regular attendance to 4Ps meetings so as to avoid deduction reinforces the dependence as the family would drop everything in order to attend the meetings for fear of getting the ire of the donors and being delisted from the list of beneficiaries,”says Perez.
“This dependence is disempowering since it lessens women’s self-worth. The dole out makes them feel more indigent who could not complain of the charity they are receiving. It is imposed and so it is not grounded on the real needs of women as revealed in the interviews with the beneficiaries,” adds Guan.

Eighty-one percent (81%) of the women respondents believe that the long-lasting solution to their impoverished condition is to have a stable job or livelihood, free education for their children, and free medicines for indigents.

A mother said: “Ilan lang ang Php1400, pandugtong lang; scholarship sa edukasyon para makapagtapos ng pag-aaral na lang sana.”
Another said: “hindi makaka-sustain sa pang araw araw na pangangailangan, livelihood ang kailangan ibigay.”

And another: “Kasi kung ngayon marami nang natatanggal sa listahan at kulang kulang ang binibigay monthly, tapos 5 years lang ang kasunduan namin. Trabaho pa rin sa amin, sariling kayod. Ibigay ng tama ang serbisyo - gamot at iba pa, ilibre na dapat.”

The initial study has been conducted since April till mid-July, conducting one-on-one interview and informal focus group discussions in selected CCT areas.