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New report shows that social protection for all could be a reality
Prior to the World Day for Decent Work1 taking place worldwide on 7 October, a new report shows that social protection can hold solutions to eradicate poverty, vulnerability and inequality, but to become a reality it requires a strong and organised civil society.
Being launched today at an event in the European Parliament in Brussels², the Global Network’s³ 2011 report entitled “Realising decent work and social protection for all: How civil society organisations are creating change” 4 highlights the role that civil society organisations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East are playing in claiming, defending and extending the right to social protection for all workers.
Despite some progress over the past decades, 1.44 billion people are still living on less than US$1.25 a day and around 1.75 billion people experience multi-dimensional poverty, with deprivations in health, economic opportunities and living standards. At the same time, around 75% of people worldwide do not have access to adequate social security. 5
National Social Protection Floors are Feasible
As Conny Reuter, Secretary General of SOLIDAR6, explains: “The establishment of national social protection floors in every society is a feasible policy option and should become a genuine policy priority.”
He continued: “As we are still in a period of crisis and with the growing global inequality contributing to social unrest and an ever-widening gap between those who have and those who have not, it is now that we need to invest in more social protection. The European example from the last century has shown that welfare states and social protection schemes create wealth that can be more equally distributed and promote social justice.”
The report highlights how social protection has played a significant role during the crisis in some countries by protecting the poor and other vulnerable people. It works by helping to stabilise demand for goods and services, and by empowering people to seize economic opportunities. But even beyond the crisis, nationally-shaped social protection floors have proven to be an effective tool for reducing poverty and inequality, as well as boosting inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
Vital Role of Civil Society Organisations
Keith Sonnet, Chair of the Global Network and Deputy General Secretary of UNISON stated: “Social security is a human right. This report shows the vital role that civil society organisations and workers’ movements, like the organisations in the Global Network, play to demand human, social and economic rights for all, including the right of everyone to a basic level of social protection.”
Civil society organisations play a crucial multidimensional role in raising awareness among workers of their rights so that they can claim and exercise them, organising and giving a voice to workers and other vulnerable groups in their call for equity and decent livelihoods, and empowering them to develop a strong collective voice and to take action to create policy, legislative, social and practical change. In addition, they act as watchdogs in holding governments and the international community to account when they fail to implement the legislation, policies and funding to which they have committed.
1 The four strategic pillars of the Decent Work agenda are access to freely chosen employment; fundamental principles and rights at work and international labour standards and freedom from discrimination; social protection and social security; social dialogue. More information: http://www.ilo.org/global/topics/decent-work/lang--en/index.htm
² Today’s event on Domestic Workers: From Modern Slavery to Equal Rights will take place in the European Parliament (room A1E3) from 12.00-14.30. It will be followed by a photo opportunity for MEPs to express their support for the International Labour Organisation’s Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers (C189). Domestic workers’ representatives will be available for interview.
³ The Global Network is analliance of labour movement organisations responding to the new challenges of globalisation within the framework of the Decent Work Agenda. It was established in 2001 by SOLIDAR and the International Federation of Workers’ Education Associations (IFWEA). For more information: http://www.theglobalnetwork.net/
5 All figures taken from speech of Ms Michelle Bachelet, Chairperson of the Social Protection Floor Advisory Group and Executive Director of UN Women, March 2011: http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/press-and-media-centre/news/WCMS_153363/lang--en/index.htm
6 SOLIDAR is a European Network of 56 social justice NGOs which coordinates the Global Network. Find out more: http://www.solidar.org/