Working for Inclusion? Conditional Cash Transfers, Rural Women, and the Reproduction of Inequality



Throughout the global South, conditional cash transfer programmes (CCTs) are used to promote socially inclusive development. CCTs are widely evaluated for their capacity to build children's human capital. In contrast, this paper aims to hold “social inclusion” to account by elucidating the impacts of Peru's CCT “Juntos” on the poor, rural mothers who are expected to meet programme conditions. Grounded in extensive ethnographic research in households, clinics, schools, and village halls, the paper interrogates the work of social inclusion in spaces where uneven development manifests itself in privation. Considered in light of critical feminist theories of performativity and social reproduction, the findings shed light on a far less optimistic reality for the work of social inclusion. This paper contributes a rich empirical account to critical literature on cash transfers and the discourses that drive them, and suggests that the circumstances under which women are required to fulfil programme conditions challenge the substance of contemporary “inclusive” development.