By Appolos Christian
Members of the Global Partnership for Universal Social Protection (USP2030),has called on countries around the world to develop their national social protection systems, and make it to include basic lifelong social security guarantees for all, especially in terms of health care and income security.
At a high-level conference held at the International Labour Organization (ILO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland on 5 February 2019, a call by the members known as; “The Call to Action”, enjoined member States to show serious commitment to the course, particularly to end poverty.
Recall that universal social protection ensures that anyone who needs social protection can access it at any time. This includes child benefits, pensions for older persons and benefits for people of working age in case of maternity, disability, work injury or for those without jobs.
“The ILO Constitution teaches us that poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere. Social protection for anyone in need, at any age, helps ensure against that threat,” said Deborah Greenfield, ILO Deputy Director-General.
According to ILO newsletter, countries in many parts of the world have achieved universal coverage, such as Bolivia, Cabo Verde, Lesotho, Mongolia, Namibia, South Africa and Timor Leste. Mongolia, for instance, has been able to provide universal old age and disability pensions, as well as universal maternity and child benefits.
The ILO also said that more than half of the global population (4 billion people) still has no access to even one social protection benefit. Forty-five per cent of the global population receives only one social protection benefit. Progress has been best in old-age pensions, with 68 per cent of older persons receiving a pension. And 1.3 billion children do not have social protection. The numbers worsen for persons with disabilities: only 28 per cent receive social protection benefits.”
“Social protection is an essential tool for reducing poverty and a fundamental human right,” said Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. “Enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this right protects persons in situations of vulnerability, including the elderly, unemployed, sick, injured or living with a disability and those in need of maternity care, so they can retain their fundamental dignity,” she added.
The newsletter also stated that in many countries, there are still large coverage gaps and inadequate benefits. One challenge, discussed by meeting participants, is the long-term willingness and capability of governments to invest in the expansion of social protection to all, including informal and gig economy workers and women who may work their whole lives but receive no pension.