ILO and UNICEF are Hosting an International Conference on Child Grants

January 22, 2019

ILO and UNICEF are Hosting an International Conference on Child Grants

The ILO, UNICEF and the Overseas Development Institute are hosting an International Conference on Universal Child Grants from 6-8 February in Geneva, Switzerland.

Universal child grants have the potential to help millions of children enjoy their right to social security and other related rights, including adequate food and nutrition, education, and housing. According to ILO’s 2017-19 World Social Protection Report, 4 billion people worldwide lack access to social protection; 1.3 billion of these being children.

Cash transfers are growing in popularity around the globe by governments who see it as part of a comprehensive social security system, while acknowledging that there is no one-size-fits- all solution: “Key issues around targeting and universalism, conditionality, policy financing, the positioning of cash transfer schemes within wider social and fiscal policy, variations in cash transfer core design features (such as the level of transfers, duration of participation) and their implications for policy impact on children’s outcomes and policy sustainability are widely debated”.

This conference brings together researchers, policy makers and practitioners to explore the arguments and evidence emerging from alternative cash transfer schemes, and promote informed policy debate and decision-making with regards to cash transfers, social protection and improving wider outcomes for children.



Photo credit: “A girl playing in kindergarten in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia”. © UNICEF /UN0243366/Pasquall

The OECD is hosting a high-level conference on social protection in Geneva

January 17, 2019

The OECD is hosting a high-level conference on social protection in Geneva

On Tuesday, 5 February 2019, the ILO will host the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) high-level conference Together to achieve Universal Social Protection by 2030 in Geneva, Switzerland.

According to the event page,

Universal social protection (USP) is essential to the economic and social development of individuals, communities and nations. It is also a human right. We call on all countries to live up to their commitment to develop nationally owned social protection systems for all, including floors, as articulated in the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015.

The conference will be an opportunity to:

  • showcase USP stories from champions and pioneers in developing countries
  • encourage countries in the Global South to adopt the USP Call to Action
  • hear what countries need from development partners to join the Global Partnership for Universal Social Protection (USP2030) to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

Governments, multilateral actors and all relevant national, regional and international organisations are invited to exchange on good practices and lessons learnt in delivering social protection to all, and to identify innovative approaches.

Register for the conference on the event page.


Photo credit: “person standing in front of watermelon filled display rack” by Avel Chuklanov via Unsplash

Overcoming Inequalities in a Fractured World: UNRISD Conference

November 7, 2018

From 7-9 October, UNRISD is hosting Overcoming Inequalities in a Fractured World: Between Elite Power and Social Mobilization.

About the Conference 

Inequalities are one of today’s greatest challenges, obstructing poverty reduction and sustainable development. Such disparities are catalysed by elite capture of economic and political power, a reinforcing process that compounds inequality, which—in its various dimensions—undermines social, environmental and economic sustainability, and fuels poverty, insecurity, crime and xenophobia.

As the power of elites grows and societal gaps widen, institutions representing the public good and universal values are increasingly disempowered or co-opted, and visions of social justice and equity side-lined. As a result, society is fracturing in ways that are becoming more and more tangible, with the growing divide between the privileged and the rest dramatically rearranging both macro structures and local lifeworlds.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development seeks to overcome such disparities, “leaving no one behind”. But how can this ambitious vision be achieved in the current climate, in which those in power act to protect the status quo from which they benefit? How can we build progressive alliances to drive the political and policy changes needed for an equitable, inclusive 21st century eco-social compact?


7 November

The conference kicks off on Wednesday, 7 November with a high-level panel discussion at the University of Geneva in the evening. Engines of Inequality? Elites, Power and Politics brings together thought leaders, influencers and advocates for change to discuss the growing influence of elite power and the deepening of global inequalities, and what can be done to counteract these trends.

The event is free and English to French translation.

8 November

The first full day of the conference opens with a plenary session, Inequality and Institutions:
Political Barriers to Transformative Change, followed by parallel sessions:

2a. Networks of Power in a Fractured World: The Role and Influence of Elites
2b. The Role of Institutions in Perpetuating or Curbing Inequalities
3a. Elite Ideology and Perceptions of Inequality: Implications for Redistribution and Social Cohesion
3b. Shifting Class Structures and Identities in the Age of Neoliberalism

9 November

The final day of the conference opens with a keynote address by Vandana Shiva, Oneness vs. The 1%, followed by parallel sessions:

4a. Cities for Whom? Causes and Consequences of Urban Socio-Spatial Inequalities
4b.Between Climate Justice and Social Exclusion: Towards an Eco-Social Approach
5a. Towards Transformative Public Policy: Undermining Elite Power through Local Collaboration and Social Mobilization
5b. Actors, Alliances and Strategies for a New Social Compact

The conference closes with The Politics of Transformative Change: UN and Civil Society Roundtable.

The complete programme is available on the UNRISD website. Select sessions will be live-streamed on UNRISD’s Facebook page.

Attendance is free, but registration is required. Registration is open until the end of the conference.

ESCAP Hosted a Regional Meeting on Ageing

October 19, 2018

ESCAP Hosted a Regional Meeting on Ageing

The 2018 Asia-Pacific Regional Conference is taking place in Tehran from 23-25 October with the support of ESCAP (as well as Age International). Family, Community and State in Ageing Societies; hosted by UNFPA, HelpAge and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran; provides an opportunity to discuss how to address the problem of unprecedented, rapid ageing in the region. Traditionally, the family has been responsible for the care of older people, with intervention from the community and government when necessary. However, the pace of ageing, urbanization and migration (meaning that caregivers move away from their older family members) and increasing life spans mean that traditional arrangements are no longer sufficient to ensure older people can live in dignity.

Past policy discussions on the issue of social policies excluded the voices of older people, despite the right to participate in shaping policy and practice. The gender dimension of ageing — men tend to have shorter life spans than women, and many women have no entitlements to contributory pension schemes due to being employed in informal labour — must also be taken into account to ensure that policy and programmatic responses to the ageing population in Asia and the Pacific leave no one behind.

The expected outcomes of the Conference are:

  • Greater understanding of how communities and governments can work together to support families facing challenges associated with rapid population ageing;
  • Shared international experience in how countries shape their public policies, structures and services to adapt to demographic change;
  • Wider and deeper networking among a range of organizations interested in ageing in the Asia-Pacific region and the Islamic Republic of Iran.



Photo credit: “Old woman selling at the market” by Firdaus Roslan (via Unsplash).

Launch of the 2018 Civil Society Reflection Group Report

September 4, 2018

Launch of the 2018 Civil Society Reflection Group Report

On 18 September, UNRISD and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Geneva will host the launch of the Civil Society Reflection Group on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development‘s 2018 report. The report, Exploring New Policy Pathways: How to overcome obstacles and contradictions in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, assesses progress towards the sustainable development agenda. The report’s overarching assessment is that “The world is off-track in terms of achieving sustainable development and fundamental policy changes are necessary to unleash the transformative potential of the SDGs”. When it comes to social protection in particular, the Group argues that “a huge gap… exists between the commitment to implement social protection systems and the current reality”.

The Civil Society Reflection Group was created in 2011 to offer independent analysis of international development policy. Since 2016, the Group has offered an annual assessment of the implementation of the SDGs, including social protection.

Download the 2016 and 2017 reports and visit the official event page to learn more and register.

ILO is Gearing Up for Its 100th Anniversary

September 3, 2018

ILO is Gearing Up for Its 100th Anniversary

2019, will mark the ILO’s 100th year of operation. As part of the ILO Centenary Initiatives, the Organization’s Social Protection Department (SOCPRO) has initiated a campaign: “100 years of social protection at the ILO: the road to universal social protection”. One of SOCPRO’s activities for the campaign was the collection of testimonies from social protection beneficiaries and people who are excluded, employers and employers’ associations, trade unions, governments, ILO staff and practitioners from social protection institutions.

In the run up to the organization’s 100th anniversary, the ILO is implementing seven Centenary Initiatives: the Future of Work, the End to Poverty, Women at Work, the Green Initiative, the Standards Initiative, the Enterprises Initiative and the Governance Initiative.

These initiatives are aimed at ensuring that the ILO will be able to successfully continue to work towards its mandate in the future — namely to ensure decent work for all in the future.



Photo credit: “Bardolina canvases” by Eddy Klaus (via Unsplash).

New UNICEF Report on WASH in Schools

August 28, 2018

New UNICEF Report on WASH in Schools

On 28 August, the Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (JMP) released Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Schools: Global baseline report 2018. The JMP, comprised of UNICEF and WHO,   has reported country, regional and global estimates of progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) since 1990, and in 2015 developed a five-year strategy to enhance monitoring and realization of access to WASH globally.

To go along with the new report, the JMP has developed new service a new monitoring mechanism to enable schools to track progress in regards to providing access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and compare with other countries.

There are clear links between human rights-based social protection, water and sanitation, education and gender equality. The 2030 Agenda explicitly calls for universal access to WASH, social protection, gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, and safe, inclusive and effecting learning environments.

To that end, this new report is the first comprehensive global assessment of WASH in schools and establishes a baseline for the sustainable development agenda. The JMP has also provided an online data visualization tool on the UNICEF website to allow stakeholders to easily compare progress towards achieving WASH in schools.

According to UNICEF,

The global effort to achieve sanitation and water for all by 2030 is extending beyond the household to include institutional settings, such as schools, healthcare facilities and workplaces. This has been reinforced by global education for all strategies highlighting how water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in schools improves access to education and learning outcomes, particularly for girls, by providing a safe, inclusive and equitable learning environment for all.

Learn more about the report.


Highlighting FAO’s Work on Social Protection

July 11, 2018

Highlighting FAO’s Work on Social Protection

FAO, Social Protection and Human Rights’ partner of the month, works to achieve food security for all and to make sure people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives.

Social protection is an important element of FAO’s work. The organization’s three main goals are a) the eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition; b) the elimination of poverty and the driving forward of economic and social progress for all; and c) the sustainable management and utilization of natural resources, including land, water, air, climate and genetic resources for the benefit of present and future generations.


The 159th FAO Council took place last month in Rome. The Council exercises functions dealing with the world food and agriculture situation and related matters, as well as current and prospective activities of the Organization, such as its Programme of Work and Budget. On 4 June, the FAO hosted FAO’s Role in Social Protection: Innovation to Achieve Zero Hunger, Reduce Poverty and Build Resilient Communities, an official side event. The event brought together representatives from FAO’s partners in social protection to discuss important achievements made thus far – and the way forward – to continue to increase rural prosperity, food security and resilience through the scale-up of social protection systems. Click to see video and photos from the side event. The report from the Council session is available here.


FAO also has a series of policy papers on human rights-based social protection to address the worldwide gap in social protection coverage as it relates to food security and nutrition — 70 percent of the world’s population still lacks access. Watch Benjamin Davis, Interim Strategic Programme Leader of the FAO Strategic Programme on Rural Poverty Reduction and Natalia Winder Rossi, Social Protection Team Leader of the FAO Social Policies and Rural Institutions Division explain how enhancing social protection systems in rural areas can contribute to reducing poverty and ending hunger. Visit the FAO Policy Portal to learn more and access all of the policy papers.

Find other FAO resources related to a HRBA to social protection including infographics, policy papers, guidance notes and synthesis reports on the platform.


Photo credit: FAO (© via Flickr).


UNRISD is Hosting a Side Event at the 2018 HLPF

July 4, 2018

UNRISD is Hosting a Side Event at the 2018 HLPF

The 2018 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) will take place from 9-18 July 2018 at the UN in New York. This year’s theme is Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies.

UNRISD is hosting an official side event. The event, Localizing the SDGs through Social and Solidarity Economy for Sustainable and Resilient Societies, will bring together experts to share knowledge and experience on how SSE is contributing to realizing the 2030 Agenda’s vision of transformation, and achieving the goals and targets at the local level, in particular in cities.

The panellists include UNRISD Senior Research Coordinator Ilcheong Yi, who will present findings from UNRISD’s soon-to-be-concluded research project which explored the role of SSE in providing access to social protection, Social and Solidarity Economy for the SDGs: Spotlight on the Social Economy in Seoul. Experts from academia, civil society and governments will also be on the panel.

In addition, the HLPF will review progress on six of the SDGs:

  • Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  • Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  • Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  • Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development.

The HLPF, which meets every year for eight days, was established following the outcome document of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), The Future We Want.

Listen to the podcast for UNRISD’s 2017 event, Refugee and Migrant Precarity: What Role for SSE?



Photo by Ian Valerio on Unsplash

UNRISD is hosting a side event at the 38th session of the Human Rights Council

June 19, 2018

UNRISD is hosting a side event at the 38th session of the Human Rights Council

On Tuesday, 19 June, UNRISD is hosting Where Do We Go from Here? Safeguarding Trans* People’s Rights. This meeting, an official side event of the 38th session of the Human Rights Council, will convene experts from international organizations, civil society and government to discuss the following questions:

  • What good practices can be identified and lessons learned from efforts being made by national and local governments to ensure human rights for trans* people?
  • Which parts of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development can be, or are being, mobilized to ensure that people of all gender identities are able to enjoy the full range of human rights? Are there gaps in the Agenda that need to be closed by progressive policy making?
  • What role can civil society play in ensuring that trans women, trans men, gender fluid and non-binary people are not left behind by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development?
  • How can social development research contribute to achieving trans* rights in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development?
  • What are some of the successes and challenges in ensuring universal access to social protection, given diverse needs within populations?

This event is sponsored by the Human Rights and Integration Department at the Ministry for European Affairs and Equality, Republic of Malta.


Photo credit: “2017.07.26 Protest Trans Military Ban, White House, Washington DC USA 7625” by Ted Eytan (CCBY 2.0 via Flickr).

Finland is Hosting an Expert Meeting on Care and Social Protection in Brussels

June 6, 2018

Finland is Hosting an Expert Meeting on Care and Social Protection in Brussels

On 7 June, the Permanent Representative of Finland to the European Union (EU) is hosting Gender, Care Economy and Social Protection Systems – Structural transformations for reaching the SDGs. The event is being held as part of the work being done by the EU Social Protection Systems Programme (SPS). The EU-SPS is a four-year programme which supports low- and middle-income governments and institutional partners in developing inclusive, sustainable and human rights-based social protection systems. Partner countries include Cambodia, Mozambique and Zambia.

This event is in preparation for the 2019 Commission of the Status of Women (CSW63), led by UN Women. The theme for the CSW63 is Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

Gender transformative sustainable development can only be realized if the gender gap in unpaid care work addressed. This will mean going beyond the idea that social protection is limited to cash transfers and implementing the “triple-R famework”: recognizing, reducing and redistributing care work performed in the home and community. This event is an opportunity to bring experts from the fields of gender and the care economy, and human rights-based social protection to exchange ideas and good practices. Shahra Razavi from UN Women, Flora Myamba from Policy Research for Development (Tanzania) and Hisayo Katsui from the University of Helsinki will discuss how social protection systems can transform our world into one that values the abilities and contributions of all.

Learn more about social protection and unpaid care on our Key Issues page.


Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

The High-Level Panel on Migration Took Place in Geneva

May 30, 2018

The High-Level Panel on Migration Took Place in Geneva

On 28 and 29 May, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Union held a Meeting of the High Level Panel on Migration (HLPM) at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) headquarters in Geneva. The Panel is made up of 16 experts from governments, the private sector, academia and civil society, and is chaired by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

The Panel’s mandate is to provide African states and other relevant stakeholders with overall guidance and support on policy dialogues on international migration in Africa, taking into account the region’s specificities. To this end, HLPM met in January 2018 and will meet again in October. Members will also participate in the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in Morocco in December.

The HLPM contributes to building sound migration policy in Africa by:

  • Supporting collaboration and cooperation among member States, regional economic communities, and international development partners to promote migrants’ rights and facilitate their movement, and reduce vulnerability of migrants, especially women;
  • Supporting the production of migration-related knowledge for the conception of evidence-based migration policies and interventions;
  • Supporting the engagement of the policy implication of the state of knowledge in determining the nature and patterns of inter, intra, and international migration streams in Africa;
  • Assessing skilled migration both for countries of origin and of destination and the long-term implications of remittance flows for development; and
  • Sensitizing policy makers to integrate migration into national plans and strategies.

Migrants face specific obstacles in being able enjoy their human right to  social protection. They may have limited or no access to social protection in their country of residence due to status or nationality, while also being unable to claim their entitlements to social security benefits in their country of origin due to their absence.

According to some estimates, today 245 million people live outside their country of origin. The majority of migration by Africans takes place within Africa itself. As a result, policy related to social security will need to be comprehensive, coherent and coordinated, to ensure that people are able to enjoy their rights regardless of where they are.

Read the event concept note and agenda, and watch the opening session on YouTube. Find out more about the HLPM on the ECA website.



Photo by Mark Kucharski on Unsplash

The 107th Session of the International Labour Conference has Begun

May 28, 2018

The 107th Session of the International Labour Conference has Begun

The 107th Session on the International Labour Conference is taking place in Geneva, Switzerland from 28 May – 8 June.

The Conference is an annual gathering of ILO member States, who are represented by government, employer and worker delegates. The Conference (also often called an international parliament of labour) has several main tasks and objectives, including drafting and adopting international labour Conventions and Recommendations; supervising the implementation of international labour standards at the national level by going over member States’ reports; assessing Global Reports on the four fundamental rights including freedom of association and elimination of forced work; and openly discussing topical issues related to labour around the world.

Visit the Conference page for more information, including:


Photo by chuttersnap via Unsplash 

Apply Now for a Social Protection Summer Course at Bonn-Rhein-Sieg

May 15, 2018

Apply Now for a Social Protection Summer Course at Bonn-Rhein-Sieg

The Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences is holding a short course on social protection during the summer and fall of 2018. The course consists of two weeks of distance learning from 16-27 July and one face-to-face week in Sankt Augustin from 5-12 September.

Participants are able to choose between seven course topics taught by international experts:

  • Climate Change
  • Health
  • Migration
  • Old Age
  • Return to work
  • Vulnerability
  • Implementation of Cash Transfer Programmes

Course instructors will be from Maastricht University, the University of Witwatersrand, HelpAge, IDS and more.

To learn more and to register, visit the course page.


Photo by Crew on Unsplash

ECLAC 2018 is in Session

May 9, 2018

ECLAC 2018 is in Session

The 37th Session of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) is taking place from 7 – 11 May in Havana, Cuba.

The event, which takes place biennially, is the most important intergovernmental conference for steering the work of ECLAC. It serves as a forum to discuss critical economic and social development issues in the region, and is also an occasion for member States to review the Commission work.

At the 2018 session, ECLAC will present its 2016-2017 progress report and member States will contribute to defining the mandates that will guide the Commission’s work in the future.

ECLAC will also present The Inefficiency of Inequality, its new report which highlights the need for governments and other stakeholders to stop and reverse inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean. The report draws out specific themes, including what it calls a “culture of privilege” and a need to shift towards a culture of human rights.

Learn more by visiting the 37th Session’s website where you can find background documents including the agenda, reports for previous ECLAC Sessions and news.




Photo by ECLAC


ESCAP Launches New Online platform on Social Protection and Two New E-Learning Guides

April 11, 2018

ESCAP Launches New Online platform on Social Protection and Two New E-Learning Guides

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) just launched an updated Social Protection Toolbox and e-learning guides Why We Need Social Protection and How to Build Inclusive Social Protection Systems.

The new Social Protection Toolbox is packed full of content to support policy makers and other stakeholders in Asia and the Pacific to build inclusive social protection schemes, with:

  • Over 100 good practices from around the world which demonstrate how to build inclusive legal frameworks, schemes for those in poverty and persons with disabilities, and universal schemes.
  • E-learning guides developed in collaboration with Development Pathways, and which show how investing in inclusive social protection can accelerate progress towards the SDGs, why universal schemes are better at reaching the poor than targeted schemes, and which policy options to consider when designing inclusive schemes. Download Why We Need Social Protection  and How to Build Inclusive Social Protection Systems. 
  • An interactive assessment tool that will help practitioners identify coverage gaps and learn how to close them based on steps other countries are taking to fill similar gaps.
  • An short animation that illustrates social protection is and why it is important for Asia and the Pacific.
  • A quiz that tests your knowledge and reveals thought-provoking facts about social protection in Asia and the Pacific.
  • ESCAP’s latest publications, covering a variety of topics related to social protection, poverty and inequality.

Despite significant extension of social protection coverage in Asia and the Pacific, some 60 percent of all women, men and children in the region are excluded from adequate social protection. Increasing coverage across the region would yield strong positive results in reducing stunting, malnutrition and child and maternal mortality, increase life expectancy, bolster economic growth and most importantly, reduce poverty.

Explore the Toolbox, read the press release and find out more about ESCAP’s work on social protection.



Photo credit: Andrew Neel via Unsplash.

ECLAC Hosted a Social Protection Short Course

April 7, 2018

ECLAC Hosted a Social Protection Short Course

On 5 and 6 March, ECLAC hosted an international course on social protection in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in collaboration with USAID, the Haitian Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, and Care.

The course’s main objective was to build capacity among government officials and provide them with knowledge on a human rights-based approach to social protection, provide them with the tools to create a more equal society, and extend social protection coverage throughout the entire life cycle in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In recent years, social protection has been increasingly recognized as being crucial to guaranteeing a basic minimum standard of living for all, and building more equitable and inclusive societies. Social protection is fundamental to contributing to the full realization of the economic and social rights, and to accelerate progress towards internationally agreed development goals, including the SDGs.

The presentations are available for download on the course website (link in French).



Photo credit: Tim Trad via Unsplash.

UNAIDS is Hosting a Conference on Social Protection and Ending AIDS

April 4, 2018

UNAIDS is Hosting a Conference on Social Protection and Ending AIDS

UNAIDS will host its 2018 International Conference on Fast-Tracking Social Protection to End AIDS on 25 and 26 April.

This event, hosted by UNAIDS’ Inter-Agency Task Team, brings together researchers, policy makers, civil society organizations and practitioners to discuss how a human rights-based approach to social protection is essential to ending AIDS. This year’s event aims to:

  • Strengthen the links with social protection including Universal Health Care and other movements for ending poverty and inequality towards ending HIV including undertaking HIV and social protection assessments.
  • Intensify actions on social protection in line with the UNAIDS strategy, the 2016 Political Declaration and Fast-Track Commitments.
  • Re-invigorate programming of HIV, food security and nutrition.

The event will take place at the UNAIDS Office in Geneva in the Kofi Annan Conference Room.

Download the conference agenda, concept note and logistics information to learn more.

Click here to register by 6 April 2018.


Photo by Will O via Unsplash.

New ESCWA report: Strengthening Social Protection for Persons with Disabilities in Arab Countries

February 21, 2018

New ESCWA report: Strengthening Social Protection for Persons with Disabilities in Arab Countries

The Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), recently released a new report, Strengthening Social Protection for Persons with Disabilities in Arab Countries. According to the most recent data collected by ESCWA, the disability prevalence rate in the Arab region is around 2.9 percent. This number is expected to steadily rise due to the ageing of the regional population and the fact that older persons are more likely to experience disability, as well as several recent and ongoing armed conflicts in the region. As with other regions, persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Arab countries are disproportionately poor and vulnerable. It is therefore critical that they have access to adequate social protection, which as ESCWA’s report shows is too frequently not the case.

The employment rate among persons – and especially women – with disabilities in the Arab region is very low, typically resulting in their exclusion from contributory social and health insurance (which is contingent on formal employment). In addition, the data indicate that even when PWDs work, they are more likely than others to do so informally.

Non-contributory forms of social protection – including social assistance and non-contributory health insurance –are increasingly distributed in Arab countries through poverty targeting, often by proxy means testing. While this has the potential to ensure that resources are more effectively channelled to the poor and vulnerable, the specific costs faced by PWDs, for example, special means of transport, are frequently overlooked by the targeting formulas. Thus, their real poverty level risks are underestimated, resulting in their exclusion from non-contributory social protection programmes. The extent to which this has been taken into account appears to vary between countries.

Furthermore, within both contributory and non-contributory social protection schemes in the region, benefits specifically related to disability are commonly contingent upon inability to work. This could reinforce the notion that having a disability is incompatible with participating in the labour market, so PWDs may have to choose between receiving the support they need and employment. At the same time, even when social protection is available to PWDs, it is often inadequate. Cash benefits are usually too low to compensate for disability-related costs. Additionally, the quality of health care is generally low in the region, and the particular forms of care needed by persons with disabilities are not provided.

The report stresses that social protection for PWDs must be an integrated part of sustainable development, which is based on the principle of leaving no one behind. The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Targets are all interdependent, meaning that advancing PWDs’ enjoyment of the right to social protection is contingent on achieving other Goals. For example, in practice, they may be able to reach health care facilities only if public infrastructure and transport are made accessible. The report also highlights the ways in which harnessing the abilities and ensuring the participation of PWDs can benefit all, and is crucial to the realization of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.

Down the report on ESCWA’s website.

An Arabic version will be made available shortly.



Photo by Emre Gencer via Unsplash.

UN Women Releases 2018 Flagship Report

February 15, 2018

UN Women Releases 2018 Flagship Report

On 14 February, 2018, UN Women launched their 2018 Flagship Report, Turning Promises into Action: gender equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in New York. 

The adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs in 2015 signalled a renewed commitment by governments to ensure universal human rights for all, including the rights to social protection and gender equality. While there has been some progress towards reaching the SDGs, as this new report points out, this progress has been largely uneven. UN Women Director notes in the forward that the report “uncovers yawning gaps between women and girls who, even within the same country, are living worlds apart. For example, in Nigeria, women and girls from the poorest households are nearly five times as likely to be married before the age of 18 as those from the richest households”. Similarly, black and Native American women in the United States are twice as likely to live in poverty as white women.

This report calls for adding gender-specific and gender-transformative targets to each of the SDGs, and improving statistics and analysis to ensure that no woman or girl is left behind as we transform our world.

Read the press release and download the report.


Photo by Alexa Mazzarello on Unsplash.

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