ILO: 4 billion people worldwide are left without social protection

VUP improves social protection in Rwanda (Photo/Courtesy)

New ILO report shows that massive efforts are still needed to ensure that the right to social security becomes a reality for all.

Despite significant progress in the extension of social protection in many parts of the world, the human right to social security is not yet a reality for a majority of the world’s population, says a new flagship report from the International Labour Organization (ILO).

According to new data presented in the World Social Protection Report 20017/19: Universal social protection to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, only 45 per cent of the global population is effectively covered by at least one social benefit, while the remaining 55 per cent– 4 billion people – are left unprotected.

The new research also shows that only 29 per cent of the global population enjoys access to comprehensive social security – a small increase compared to 27 per cent in 2014-2015 – while the other 71 per cent, or 5.2 billion people, are not, or only partially, protected.

“The lack of social protection leaves people vulnerable to ill-health, poverty, inequality and social exclusion throughout their lifecycle. Denying this human right to 4 billion people worldwide is a significant obstacle to economic and social development. While many countries have come a long way in strengthening their social protection systems, major efforts are still necessary to ensure that the right to social protection becomes a reality for all,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.

The report recommends an increase of public expenditure on social protection to extend social protection coverage, especially in Africa, Asia and the Arab States, to provide at least a basic social protection floor to all.

It highlights that universal social protection contributes to eradicating poverty, reducing inequality, promoting economic growth and social justice, as well as achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and shows how many developing countries have developed universal schemes.

The report stresses the need to extend social protection to workers in the informal economy as a way of formalizing and improving their working conditions.

“However, short-term austerity policies continue undermining long-term development efforts. Fiscal consolidation adjustments have significant negative social impacts and jeopardize the achievement of the SDGs,” said Isabel Ortiz, Director of the ILO Social Protection Department.

“Fiscal space for extending social protection exists even in the poorest countries. Governments should be proactive in exploring all possible financing options to promote the SDGs and national development through decent jobs and social protection,” she added.

Universal social protection is essential for realizing the human right to social security for all, advancing social justice and promoting inclusive growth, and accelerating progress towards achieving the globally agreed 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

ILO flagship report provides a global overview on recent trends in social protection systems, including social protection floors. Based on new data, it offers a broad range of global, regional and country data on social protection coverage, benefits and public expenditures on social protection.

The report follows a life-cycle approach, starting with social protection for children, followed by schemes for women and men in working age, including protection in case of maternity, unemployment, employment injury and disability, and those for older persons, including pensions.

It also assesses progress towards universal coverage in health. It calls for greater attention towards the extension of coverage, adequate financing and strengthening national social protection systems, with a particular focus on achieving the SDGs.

Source: ILO.

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