This chapter examines the development of a pilot conditional cash transfer (CCT) programme which was carried out in the Cairo neighbourhood of Ain el Sira from 2008‑2012 by the Egyptian Ministry of Social Solidarity and its partners, with technical and research support provided by the American University in Cairo and the Pathways of Women’s Empowerment programme. The aim was to test out the programme in one urban setting in Cairo as a learning model for future national-level implementation. CCTs are seen to be efficient, effective, popular and even progressive because they divert resources to women. This programme sought to be even more progressive in that it contested the gender dynamics usually associated with CCTs that validate women’s roles as mothers and ignore their productive roles and agency.
The importance of social protection for women is outlined in the chapter before exploring some of the critiques of CCTs and their impact on women’s empowerment. The conclusion examines the impact the programme had on the residents of Ain el-Sira. It is the contention of this chapter that social protection programmes not only need a gender lens to be more effective in their primary role of mitigating poverty and vulnerability, but can also be the levers for a political transformation in which poor women can escape the narrative of victimhood and gain recognition as citizens with rights.