Bolsa Família Companion Program


The Bolsa Família Companion Program was inspired and informed by results from the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES), which has identified a link between women’s increased income and participation in conditional cash transfer programs with an increase in experiences of violence.


Group education encourages men and women to critically reflect about shared-decision making and power dynamics within their relationships in order to increase the gender-equitable impact of the Bolsa Família Program in Brazil, one of the first and largest conditional cash transfer programs in the world, reaching more than 11 million households.


Macro-level policy recommendations regarding the benefits of gender-transformative conditional cash transfer programming will be proposed to the Brazilian government based on the outcomes of this program.


Established in 2003, Brazil’s Bolsa Família Program is one of the first and largest conditional cash transfer programs in the world, with around 1 in 4 Brazilians registered in the program nationally. The Bolsa Família Program aims to eliminate extreme poverty and increase access to services among the country’s most economically and socially vulnerable populations. The conditionalities of the program, which include ensuring up-to-date vaccinations, regular school attendance, and annual medical checkups, are all child-centered.

Promundo introduced its gender-transformative programming as a companion to the Bolsa Família Program in order to address and prevent the perpetuation of traditional gender norms and potential escalation of violence. These may occur when programming reinforces women’s roles as holding the primary responsibility for their children’s school and health needs, while removing responsibility from men. Promundo believes that the impact of the Bolsa Família Program’s social and economic initiative can be amplified with gender-transformative programming that works to engage men proactively in support of women’s economic empowerment. Using micro-level qualitative and quantitative research, Promundo aims to make macro-level policy recommendations to the Brazilian federal government and international community on the benefits of gender-transformative conditional cash transfer programming and implementation.

Financed by UN Women’s Fund for Gender Equality, the research-action project will last three years and is being implemented in both urban and rural communities in the states of Rio de Janeiro and Pernambuco. Successful practices and lessons learned will be documented, disseminated, and shared with the international community, targeting countries that have similar policies and programs.

Because targeting men is important for successful results in empowering women, Promundo and its partners engage men to critically reflect on their female partners’ empowerment, participation, decision-making, and rejoining/joining the labor market. Promundo, together with local and federal officials and the program’s beneficiaries, recognizes the multi-level collaboration necessary to implement a more gender-transformative social and economic policy. Promundo and partners are confident this programming can be a model and can be scaled up to other states in Brazil and countries in Latin America with similar programs.

Related Programs:

  • Journeys of Transformation: Journeys of Transformation promotes women’s economic empowerment by engaging men as allies in transforming harmful gender attitudes and behaviors that impact progress.