The significance of gender as an explanatory variable in analysis of social policy is brought here.
There are several issues related to the welfare of women and one of these would be reconciling employment with care as in policy agendas and Lewis (2006) highlights a wide variety of problems ranging from low fertility to aging societies and issues dealing with child poverty. According to Lewis gender equality is closely associated with care and development of policies in the field. Modern welfare states are plagued with new social risks usually shaped by labour market changes and family structure changes. Policy makers promote women's employment and care work in existing models and Lewis suggests that in order for any adult worker model family to be more gender equal, a variety of policies dealing with time, money and services would be necessary if women and men are to engage equally in paid and unpaid work.
Feminism and feminist writings have argued that the concept of a welfare state is tilted quite unjustly in favor of men and there would be a policy overhaul necessary for gender equality. Esping Anderson (2003) suggests that this would apply to all welfare states and the same objective of policy overhaul could be persuasive only if women friendly policies are shown to bring about general welfare for all. It is claimed in the article that putting feminist causes aside, women's welfare will bring about changes in societal welfare in general. Gender equality would be a necessary part of a post industrial society and women tend to be the instruments in bringing about positive welfare equilibrium. Of course this brings us to the core of this discussion as to whether the male breadwinner model still exists in British society.
According to Anderson (2003) the welfare equilibrium is based on the male breadwinner concept and the necessity for job security as well as the family internalization and caring needs. The male breadwinner is also the production worker and tends to provide the guideline for institution building. Every social policy seems to evolve around safeguarding the position and job of the traditional male breadwinner. Whether it is full employment commitment or collective bargaining, or even labour market regulations and social protection, a male breadwinner's security has always implied delivering universal security (Anderson 2003). The male breadwinner forms the nexus between economy and family, production and consumption he is at centre stage and women's financial dependence was a fact during the post war phase and women hardly worked although if they did they had to do typically with very low wages.
The equal treatment of men and women has been important in getting women's needs recognized especially in matters of social security. However even in the post war period and beyond with women's economic independence, there are reported unequal situations of men and women in the labour market tend to have significant implications on how policy is changed or works in general. The equal treatment of men and women and limits to this in the context of new labour market trends suggest demands on social security however Millar (1989) asks to what extent an equal treatment approach and a formal social policy