The role of gender in social protection is complex, shaping the types of risks tackled, how they are tackled, public buy-in and programme implementation practices. However, the extent to which gender has been integrated into social protection approaches has been uneven at best. This paper synthesises findings from a multi-country research project on gender and social protection effectiveness. The project aimed to examine the extent to which existing social protection programming approaches are reinforcing women’s traditional roles and responsibilities, or harnessing the potential for social protection to contribute to a transformation of gender relations in economic and social spheres. It did this by assessing how far gender has been incorporated into the design and implementation of: cash transfers in Ghana and Peru; asset transfers in Bangladesh; public works in Ethiopia and India; and subsidised food and services in Indonesia, Mexico and Viet Nam. The methodology employed a mixed methods approach, including a review of secondary sources, key informant interviews, household surveys, focus group discussions and life histories from poor men, women and children across different stages of the lifecycle.