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Global Goals and financing social protection

Darts boardThe Global Goals reinforce governments’ commitment in calling for social protection systems that can alleviate poverty, redistribute women’s unpaid care work and reduce inequalities (see targets 1.3, 5.4, 10.4). The Addis Ababa Action Agenda sets out the macroeconomic policies and financing strategies to implement the Global Goals. It emphasises the need for women’s economic empowerment to generate growth, but does not sufficiently call into question the economic policies that are leading more and more women into precarious employment and deepening poverty. For growth to be inclusive, women must receive a larger share of the returns from their labour. This calls for redistributive policies that shift greater wealth and resources from corporate sectors to workers. For example, tackling corporate tax avoidance and evasion can increase the tax revenue available to finance social protection programmes and quality public services. Respecting internationally agreed labour rights such as a minimum wage, equal wages for work of equal value, maternity benefits, and decent working conditions may increase the production costs for companies, but will allow workers and their households to secure adequate food, shelter, education and healthcare. Lower levels of inequality between women and men, within countries and between countries can sustain more inclusive growth in the future.

Where harmful gender norms and discriminatory laws hinder women’s economic empowerment, their participation in low paid and informal sector employment is also a concern for macroeconomic policy. Labour markets reflect prevalent gender, class and racial inequalities, while low levels of public expenditure on basic services hits women hardest as they are most dependent on these services. Social protection policies therefore must not only be designed and implemented to redress unequal gender norms, but also ambitiously financed to reach the most women and enable their economic, social and political empowerment. In turn the investment in social protection policies contributes to economic growth by supporting household income and domestic consumption.

The resources below delve into the debates around financing social protection programmes and macroeconomic policies that can support women’s access to decent work opportunities and quality public services.

Recommended reading

World social protection report: building economic recovery, inclusive development, and social justice
International Labour Organization 2014
This ILO World Social Protection Report provides a global overview of the organisation of the world’s social protection systems for 2014/2015. The report takes its point of departure in the global inequities in the provision of ...
Progress of the World's Women 2015-2016: Transforming economies, realising rights
UN Women 2015
This report focuses on the economic and social dimensions of gender equality, including the right of all women to a good job, with fair pay and safe working conditions, to an adequate pension in older age, to health care and to safe w...
Financing for gender equality: reframing and prioritising public expenditures to promote gender equality
S Seguino / UN Women 2013
This policy briefing makes the case for macroeconomic policy frameworks that invest in public services and build economies, rather than those that constrain public budgets. The author argues that investing in growth contributes to gen...
Paid work, women’s empowerment and inclusive growth: Transforming the structures of constraint
N. Kabeer / UN Women 2013
Drawing on household survey data collected in Egypt, Ghana and Bangladesh as part of the Pathways of Women’s Empowerment Consortium, this report provides insights into the ‘resource’ pathways that enhance women’s a...
Fiscal Space for Social Protection Options to Expand Social Investments in 187 Countries
I Ortiz; M Cummins; K Karunanethy / International Labour Organization 2015
It is often argued that social protection is not affordable or that government expenditure cuts are inevitable during adjustment periods. But there are alternatives, even in the poorest countries. This working paper offers a...
Underwriting the Poor. A Global Fund for Social Protection
O De Schutter; M Sepulveda / UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights 2012
Seventy-five to eighty per cent of the world’s poor do not have comprehensive social protection, yet the total costs of introducing social protection would amount to only 2-6 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP). Poor...