UN ESCAP pioneers platform for expanding social protection

Photo Credit: Kibae Park/Sipa Press
Photo Credit: Kibae Park/Sipa Press

Over 40 government representatives and key stakeholders from civil society and academia joined the launch yesterday of a cutting-edge platform designed for expanding social protection in Asia and the Pacific.

Designed by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) to build consensus towards broader and more robust social protection coverage, the Social Protection Toolbox (www.socialprotection-toolbox.org) went live in New Delhi, India during a gathering hosted by ESCAP, in co-operation with the Institute for Social Studies Trust (ISST).

Despite many good practices in the Asia-Pacific region, there remains a great need to expand social protection coverage. Only 20 per cent of the population in the region has access to health care, less than one third of older persons receive a pension, only 10 per cent of the jobless receive unemployment benefits, and only 30 per cent of those with disabilities earn enough income to support themselves.

“Having the possibility to easily assess social protection schemes that have special importance to women and girls, and exchange experiences with other countries for moving forward is indeed an instrument we have needed for a long time,” said Ms. Rashmi Singh, Executive Director, National Mission for Empowerment of Women, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India.

The Toolbox directly confronts the need to expand coverage and enables users to visually identify gaps at the national level while providing users with useful examples on how to move forward.

Mr. Srinivas Tata, Chief, Social Policy and Population Section, ESCAP stated: “The Toolbox will facilitate policy makers to connect in an entirely new way and support their endeavors to build stronger and more robust social protection systems.”

“The Toolbox offers a unique approach to explore social protection and learn what other countries around the world are doing to provide income support and health services,” added Mr. Rajib Nandi, Officer-in-charge, Institute of Social Studies Trust.

India has taken important steps to extend social protection coverage to the entire population, especially to those living below the national poverty line. These strong initiatives, including the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and the National Social Assistance Programme, a cash-transfer scheme for older people and persons with disabilities, form part of an interactive database of over 70 good practices in social protection from 52 developing countries around the world.