Kabeer, N., Cook, S., Chopra, D., and Ainsworth, P. - 13-Oct-10
ISBN 978 1 85864 955 2
Price £ 0.00
A new report highlighting the crucial role civil society has to play in strengthening political commitment to address vulnerability and deliver social protection was published by IDS on October 13th.
Lack of political will has been widely acknowledged as a key reason for the absence of systemic social protection in Asia. The Social Protection in Asia programme (SPA) sought to go beyond this to understand the factors that lead to the emergence and strengthening of political commitment to address vulnerability. To achieve this, researchers from IDS, the Institute of Human Development in India and partners from across Asia spent three years identifying barriers to comprehensive and inclusive social protection faced by the most marginalised in Asia's informal economies.
Many of the studies (in China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India) also sought to bring the experiences and perspectives of marginalised groups themselves to the attention of policy makers. Following the completion of their study of village-level social protection provision for the elderly, for example, partners from Tsinghua University organised a workshop which brought together government policymakers, rural community leaders, and academic researchers around the issue of old age support for China's rural population. The community leaders from the villages who had participated in the SPA research were given the opportunity to share their efforts to build community welfare programmes for the elderly with key officials from ministries and commissions. A major achievement of this workshop was recognition by public officials that the elderly still had major contributions to make to their communities and should not be positioned as dependents on their families or their communities.
Evidence from SPA research also found that state support for social protection is frequently driven by political considerations - the need to win elections, to contain social unrest or to build political legitimacy. By galvanising support for social protection, holding providers to account and innovating new ways of delivering social protection to excluded groups, the report concludes that civil society can act as a driving force to bring socially marginalised groups - those who have very little political clout - onto the public agenda.
The SPA programme has been managed by a team based at IDS, and directed by former IDS Fellows Naila Kabeer (now at SOAS) and Sarah Cook (now at UNRISD), together with Alakh Sharma from the Institute of Human Development, India.