A number of donors and organisations are currently working together to try to persuade governments in southern Africa to adopt social protection programmes, aimed at assisting the most vulnerable members of our society. In particular, these organisations would like to see child-sensitive social protection policies being adopted.
The arguments in favour of child-sensitive social protection can be found in a joint statement, produced in mid-2009. This statement was produced and is still being actively used by, DFID, HelpAge International, Hope & Homes for Children, the Institute of Development Studies, the International Labour Organisation, the Overseas Development Institute, Save the Children UK, UNDP, UNICEF and the World Bank.
The statement argues that social protection is important, as it supports progress towards many of the Millennium Development Goals, can boost the effectiveness of investments in health, education, and water and sanitation, and can help the poorest and most marginalised in society attain a decent standard of living.
The statement says that social protection measures should be child-sensitive as children have particular needs, are particularly vulnerable, and that investment in their development can have long term benefits for them, as well as for society as a whole.
So what should child-sensitive social protection do? It should focus on aspects of well-being that include:
- providing adequate child and maternal nutrition
- access to quality basic services
- supporting families and caregivers in their childcare role,
- addressing gender inequality
- preventing discrimination and child abuse
- reducing child labour
- increasing caregivers’ access to employment or income generation
- preparing adolescents for their own livelihoods.
These aims can be achieved using a range of social protection measures such as:
- Social transfers (regular, predictable payments in cash or kind)
- Social insurance (supporting access to healthcare and other services)
- Social services and
- Policies, laws and regulations that protect families’ access to resources, promote employment and support them in their child-care role.
The document calls on governments and other role players to set priorities and begin taking steps to progressively realize a “basic social protection package that is accessible to all those in need and is fully child-sensitive.”