Working in the development field brings us closer to people. While there’s no assurance that what we are doing would create huge impacts on development, we take comfort in knowing that in our own little ways, we contribute to a higher purpose – human development. Social protection has gained prominence in the international development jargon in the last decade, particularly in Asia and the Pacific. This is not to say that social protection programs are new in this region. In fact, protecting people from extreme deprivations has always been on top of the development agenda.
Social protection is linked to many development outcomes, foremost of which is lifting people out of poverty and protecting them from falling into it. It is associated with inclusive growth (social inclusiveness), reducing risk and vulnerability, empowerment, participation and solidarity principles. The main categories of social protection are social assistance, social insurance and labor market programs. National social protection strategies and regional social protection frameworks can guide effective implementation taking into account financing, and fiscal sustainability. Social protection systems benefit marginalized and disadvantaged groups of the society and protect formally employed through disability benefits, unemployment insurance, old age pensions, and other forms of social safety nets. Social protection deals with providing income security and access to basic social services at all stages of a person’s life. Policy reforms to improve effective coverage, targeting, poverty, and strengthening gender impacts are being pursued in various developing countries. This is closely linked to education and health programs. Skills development, retraining, provision of decent jobs, food for work are all part of social protection.
Given the wide scope of social protection, there are many ways to help improve and expand social protection systems in Asia and the Pacific. This team blog on social protection aims to discuss best practices and new opportunities to build sustainable social protection programs in the Asia and the Pacific.