United Nations: Over 4 billion don’t have social protection

Friday, September 3rd, 2021 00:00 | By
Over 4 billion people don’t have social protection. Photo/Courtesy

Over half of all people in the world have no social protections, the United Nations has said, even after the pandemic spurred countries to offer more services to their populations.

In a report on the state of social protection globally, the UN’s International Labour Organisation said that 4.1 billion people were living without any social safety net of any kind.

Social protection includes access to health care and income security measures related, especially to old age, unemployment, sickness, disability, work injury, maternity or the loss of the main breadwinner in a family, as well as extra support for families with children.

In 2020, only 46.9 per cent of the global population benefitted from at least one such protection, according to the report -- ILOs first on the subject since 2017.

That low rate came even as access to healthcare, sickness and unemployment benefits have more than ever proved their relevance during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This crisis has revealed the absolutely crucial role that social protection has played in national responses around the world,” ILO chief Guy Ryder told reporters.

Covid-19 crisis

“Without the massive and rapid expansion of social protection during the Covid-19 crisis, its impact would certainly have been very much worse than it actually has been.”

Ryder said this renewed appreciation for social protections had offered “glimmers of optimism amid the devastation wrought by the pandemic.”

He urged countries to centre their recovery efforts around boosting social protections.

“Countries are at a crossroads,” he said in a statement, stressing that “this is a pivotal moment to harness the pandemic response to build a new generation of rights-based social protection systems.”

But while the pandemic has provided an opportunity for improving social protections, it also laid bare the glaring disparities between the protections currently on offer in different parts of the world.

Ryder said the Covid crisis had acted “as an X-ray for global society,” revealing “large gaps in the coverage, in the adequacy and in the comprehensiveness of social protection.”

Europe and Central Asia have the highest rates of coverage, with a full 84 per cent of people covered by at least one social protection, followed by the Americas, at 64.3 per cent, according to the ILO.   –AFP

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