Make universal social protection a reality – ILO Director of Social Protection

February 11th, 2019

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.

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