Ensure Meaningful and Effective Participation

Meaningful and effective participation of rights holders must be a key component of any social protection system. This is what builds trust and public support behind schemes and ensures that there is a sense of ownership. The participation of right holders is important during the social protection policy making processes but also as regards the involvement of relevant stakeholders in the governance of social protection schemes.

The right to participate in public life is enshrined in several human rights norms, such as Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (General Comment 19) has recommended that beneficiaries participate in the administration of social protection programmes and that the system be established under national law. The ILO’s social security conventions and recommendations also specify that national social security strategies should be formulated and implemented on the basis of national consultations through effective social dialogue and participation (Recommendation No. 202, para 13) and for that participation of social partners and other stakeholders in the administration of social protection systems, especially where this is not entrusted to a public authority (Convention No. 102, Article 72; Convention No. 168, Article 29).

As well as being an inherent right, participation has the additional advantage of allowing authorities to improve the design and delivery of services. In order to ensure meaningful and effective participation, participatory channels should take into account existing asymmetries of power, patterns of marginalization and gender inequalities that exist within the household and the community. The adoption of specific measures to encourage the inclusion and participation of women, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, ethnic minorities, older persons and other groups that experience structural discrimination is often necessary to ensure that stakeholders are able to exercise their rights. For example, mechanisms such as sex quotas in participatory channels, timelines for consultation that take into consideration time restrictions imposed on those who undertake care work such as childcare may facilitate the participation of more women. Demonstrating that inputs and perspectives are valued in decision-making, design and implementation processes may also be useful to generate positive incentives for rights holders to participate.

Expert Commentaries

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