Newsletter #21 – March 2019 - CSW 63

e-GCSPF # 21 - March 2019 - CSW63

Members of the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors will participate in the CSW63 that will take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 11 to 22 March 2019.
The Priority Theme for the 2019 Session is Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
Review theme: Women’s empowerment and the link to sustainable development.

SIDE EVENTS: Visit here the list of side events.


The GCSPF submitted a written statement to the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63). The GCSPF calls to the attention how social protection systems in many countries do not reach most workers, especially those in informal employment. Social protection systems have been designed around a male breadwinner model, assuming an uninterrupted and full-time career in the formal economy. This tends to penalise women, who are lower paid, disproportionately represented in precarious and informal work, and shoulder most unpaid care, resulting in substantially lower coverage rates and benefit levels. Read more

Social Protection: Definition, Context, Reality and Possibilities

Conversation about social protection. Many people who will be attending Consultation Day will know little about social protection we need to start with a definition and a vision of social protection followed by the reality that inequality is growing and taxes on the wealthy are being cut resulting in the cutting back of public services in the name of austerity. Of the 400 parallel events that are scheduled for CSW many spoke in the applications about the reality of social protection in their countries: corruption, how public private partnerships leave them in debt and how women are not consulted about social protection policy.
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, and H.E. Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason of Ireland and Bureau Chair of CSW moderated by Sherine Tadros, Amnesty International and former Al Jazeera journalist and OXFAM.
Sunday 10 March - Time: 10:30 am - Tribeca Performing Arts Center on Chambers St.

"Changing Laws, Changing Minds"

Co-sponsored event where the OECD is able to present its work on addressing legislative reform for women’s economic empowerment (WEE) across MENA combined with Oxfam's work to address immediate needs and overcoming social/cultural barriers at the community level would make for an interesting and engaging event.
OECD, Sweden, Tunisia, UN Women and OXFAM
Monday 11 March - Time: 8:15 am - 9:30 am - Conference Room 12 - GA Building


The discussion will highlight the benefits of social protection for women and girls focusing on Zambia and learning from other countries around the continent. The discussion will also focus on the need to develop policy frameworks that will ensure social and gender inclusion. Panelists will share on best practices from other countries for replication of innovative ways on how to improve women’s access to quality and equitable social protection services.
Monday 11 March - Conference Room A - Time: 11:15 -12:45 pm. Read the flyer here

Strengthening social protection systems to promote women’s empowerment and gender equality

Coordinated by SPIAC-B – in cooperation with ITUC and with IDWF
Monday 11 March - UN Women, 220 E 42nd Street - Time: 15.00 – 16.30

Women Workers Defining Social Protection Systems To Address Gender-Based Violence at Work

Coordinated by Solidarity Centre
Monday 11 March - Salvation Army, Room: Auditorium - Time: 16.30

Closing the gender pay gap - Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC)

Coordinated by Government of Switzerland
Monday 11 March - UN Headquarters Conference Room 7 - GA Building - Time: 18.30 – 19.45
RSVP: cristina.verones[at]

Building Sustainable Infrastructure for Women Globally

Coordinated by CRIAW with ICREF, PSI, ITF
Tuesday 12 March - The Armenian Convention Center, Room: Vartan Hall - Time: 08.30

Child Care and Decent Work: Making the Connections

Coordinated by CLC Canada
Tuesday 12 March - Church Center for the United Nations, Room: Eight floor - Time: 10.30

On the way to Biarritz: Women’s Rights at the heart of the G7 Summit

Organised by CARE France and Equilibres & Populations, and sponsored by France and Canada, this event will contribute to a multi-stakeholder and multi-country dynamic around priority issues related to women’s and girls’ rights across the globe. It will also offer an opportunity to continue discussions over the commitments which could be made during the 2019 G7 Summit to fight gender inequality and enshrine them in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Tuesday 12 March - Time: 11:30 am -12:45 pm - United Nations Building, Room CR4

Widespread privatization of public goods and human rights protections

Philip Alston's UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, report
Coordinated by LO, PSI, FEMMENT and APWLD
Tuesday 12 March - UN Headquarters, Room: Delegates Dining Room - Time: 13.15 – 14:30

Laying the groundwork for women’s economic empowerment: Social policies and unpaid care work

Jointly organised by the Government of Switzerland and the OECD Gender network
Tuesday 12 March - UN Headquarters Room: EXP-B - Time: 16.00 – 16.15

The future of women at work: A road map for gender equality and decent work

Coordinated by International Labour Organisation (ILO)– with ITUC, IOE and representatives of governments
Tuesday 12 March - United Nations Headquarters, Room: Conference room 12 - Time: 18.30 – 19.45

Towards a Scorecard on Unpaid Care and Domestic Work, Informal strategy session

This session will test key assumptions and garner wider perspectives from experts and user groups in order to identify key considerations in the framing, focus, and scope of the scorecard. Participants will also be asked to help collectively identify areas for further consideration, potential uses, and next steps in the development process.
Wednesday 13 March - Time: 10:30 AM -12:30PM (followed by lunch) - FEDCAP, 210 East 43rd Street New York

Shifting the Narrative: Financing Women's Rights Through Tax Justice

Coordinated by Global Alliance for Tax Justice (GATJ) – in which PSI is a member
Wednesday 13 March - Church Center for the United Nations, Tenth Floor - Time: 12.30

Social protection, public services and sustainable infrastructure: Policy coherence for the empowerment of women in informal employment

Coordinated by UN Women and Wiego. Co-sponsored by UN OPS, UNDP, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection in Ghana, SEWA and ICRW
Wednesday 13 March - UN Headquarters, Room: CR 11 - Time: 15.00 – 16.15

Stop gender-based violence in the world of work

Union women and feminist allies campaigning for the adoption of an ILO Convention in June 2019.
Coordinated by Global Unions - ITUC in coordination with EI, PSI, ITF, UNI Global Unions, IFJ, IDWF
Wednesday 13 March - Church Center for the United Nations, Tenth Floor - Time: 16.30

Making the Economy Work for Women: Rights and Realities

Coordinated by Womankind with FEMNET, AWID, PSI and APWLD
Wednesday 13 March - Church Center for the United Nations, Tenth Floor - Time: 18.15

Economic Empowerment as a Means of Social Protection for Women in Agriculture

The aim of the event is to create access for FMARD and her major partners to interact closely with the UN agencies and other Development Partners with a view to advocating for more support for Women in Agriculture in Nigeria to facilitate achievement of SDGs 1-5 and 8, which deal with multiple aspects of poverty. It is also aimed at attracting potential partners to work and support FMARD achieve the objectives of the National Gender Action Plan for Agriculture.
The Nigeria Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development (FMWASD) and National Centre for Women Development (NCWD) are the main organizers Wednesday 13 or Thursday 14 March - TBC

Every woman matters: Social protection and older women’s economic empowerment

At the event we will hear directly from two older women, one from Pakistan and one from Uganda, about their experiences of and views on income security in older age. There will also be an opportunity to hear from social protection experts and researchers with a range of perspectives about how social protection contributes to older women’s economic empowerment. See the invitation here
Coordinated by Age International and HelpAge International
Thursday 14 March - FEDCAP – 210 East 43rd Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenue) - Time: 10.30 am - 12 pm

Front Lines Public Services Workers: strategies for Gender Responsive Quality Public Services

Coordinated by Public Services International-(PSI)
Thursday 14 March - 4W 43rd Street Gallery, Blue Room - Time: 12:30

Pushing Back on Macroeconomic Policy: Public Services for Women's Rights

Coordinated by ActionAid International with Global Unions
Thursday 14 March - Church Center for the United Nations, Second Floor - Time: 14.30

The gig economy: an opportunity or challenge for extending social protection to excluded women?

Coordinated by Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and Government of Indonesia, with participation from ETUC and/or ITUC Africa
Friday 15 March - Ex-Press Bar - GA Building - Time: 10:00 AM-11:15 AM

Taxing for Gender Equality: Evaluating Gender Effects of Tax Laws

'This seminar-style event will provide information on how to identify the gender impact of national and local tax laws, including VAT, personal and business taxes, market fees, informal charges, social contribution taxes, extractive revenues, property taxes, education levies, and excise and trade taxes. Examples from countries at all levels of development will be provided, with special emphasis on countries in which tax laws increase barriers to accessing the necessities of living.
Friday 15 March - Time: 2:30 pm - Church Centre for the UN, 8th floor

“Influential Women's Movement Championing Social Protection Advocacy on Unpaid Care Work”

UWONET intends to share her experiences in building a vibrant and influential women’s movement to champion social protection of women and girls through women’s leadership. A case study of advocating for recognition, reduction and redistribution of unpaid care and domestic work in Uganda will be shared at this event. The case study will focus on advocacy efforts by women leaders (political and civil society) to enhance provision of quality social service across Uganda. UWONET will further share best practices of community initiatives and engagement of young people via digital platforms.
Monday 18 March - Time: 10:30 am - Church Center for the United Nations Drew Room

Responding and Empowering: GBV Services in Lebanon in Response to the Syrian Crisis

The Irish Consortium on Gender Based Violence (ICGBV) where Oxfam Ireland is a member (so is Irish Aid) is planning to host a side event looking at access to services for survivors of GBV based on a Lebanon case study. As the CSW coincides with the tragic milestone of 8 years of brutal war in Syria, the Consortium sought to explore the relationship between the Syrian conflict, displacement and GBV in more detail. The Irish Consortium on GBV and OXFAM
Tuesday 19 March - Ireland Mission to the UN, 1 2nd Ave #885, New York, NY 10017

Implementing and Financing Social Protection Floors: Finding the Political Will

The objective of the event is to generate substantive discussion and propose concrete measures to address the challenges to implementing social protection systems including floors, and to increase understanding of how women- and child-sensitive social protection in migration contexts will empower women, promote gender equality, and contribute to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Co-organized by the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the United Nations and the Joint Advocacy Group on Social Protection
Wednesday 20 March - UN Headquarters, Room: CR A - Time: 3 pm



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This side event “Accountability dimension: social protection as a tool for the reduction of inequalities” was organised both to discuss emerging challenges on social protection as a tool for the reduction of inequalities and to look at both conceptual issues and practical solutions.  The presenters explored the accountability dimension in designing and delivering social protection schemes; the links between social protection and human rights in reducing inequalities; and the role of civil society in social protection accountability monitoring. This side event was sponsored by the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors and coorganised by SOSTE, the Finnish Federation for Social Affairs and Health, The International Council on Social Welfare (ICSW), The International Association of the Schools of Social Work (IASSW), The African Platform for Social Protection (APSP), UNESCO-MOST, and The Center for Economic and Economic and Social Rights (CESR). It was held on 14 February 2019, United Nations during the 57th Session of the UN Commission for Social Development.

The focus on accountability was seen as a practical step towards strengthening the issue- based approaches of the Commission on Social Development, taking account of Agenda 2030’s emphasis on universality and human rights and mindful of its call to the global community to assess, monitor, evaluate, share and discuss progress towards the achievement of its goals and targets.

Presentations were made by Vertti Klukas – General Secretary of SOSTE, the Finnish Federation for Social Affairs and Health; Professor Lynne Healy – Representative to the UN of the International Association of Schools of Social Work; Helen Mudora – Programme Manager, Africa Platform for Social Protection; Cecilie Golden – Programme Specialists, Management of Social Transformation (MOST), UNESCO; Kate Donald – Director, Economic and Social Policy Program, Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) and Sergei Zelenev -Executive Director, International Council on Social Welfare. The event was moderated by Sylvia Beales Gelber, Director Beales Gelber Consult, Strategic Partnerships Advisor to the Africa Platform for Social Protection.

Key conclusions of the session

Presentations, detail of which can be seen in the February newsletter of the ICSW highlighted the following issues:

Human rights, social protection and accountability

The Human Rights Charter establishes the right to social security together with other social and economic rights and social guarantees. ILO Recommendation 202 sets out standards on social protection floors, a key feature of Agenda 2030 goal 1 target 1.3.  However, the reality of social protection implementation varies wildly between countries. Without obligations set by national legislation or human rights frameworks, and knowledge of them, accountability is weakened. The work of the Africa Platform for Social Protection demonstrate that monitoring the delivery of social protection services by civil society can help to hold government departments to account with regard to the standards which they have set for themselves. For the Platform, which operates in 27 countries across Africa, accountability is conceived as building capacity and knowledge of rights to social protection of both policy makers as well as communities which they serve. Bringing the voice and experience of the grassroots and the disempowered to policy makers improves  performance and supports long term change.  The Platform has therefore developed a  social protection accountability tool to support communities to assess whether payments are made on time; how far people have to travel to payment points; to monitor transparency; the attitudes of civil servants providing the service and the response to complaints. Results of these assessment are taken into government negotiations about the benefit system that results in improved social protection programmes.

UNESCO adopts an explicit human rights approach to obligations arising from Articles 22  and 25 of the Universal Declaration. It considers social security to be the essential building block for a decent life and supports programmes such as Ministers Forums that bring ministers, researchers and civil society together for the coproduction of knowledge and best practice.

The definition and widespread communication of rights and standards are essential for effective accountability. There has to be commitment on the part of duty bearers (governments) to effective delivery according to entitlements and equity.  For this reason there should be effective means of redress when governments fail to deliver services to which they have committed themselves.  There are acknowledged difficulties and challenges in linking human rights obligations to the SDGs. However, the SIRF index on social inclusion provides data which are relevant to social protection and can be used to assess rights performance by countries.

Importance of universality

Universal programmes are the way forward for the achievement of human rights because they advance human rights, leave no gaps and do not exclude anyone. They also have lower administration costs than targeted and means tested programmes which seek to establish dividing lines and thresholds between eligible and non-eligible recipients. Conditional cash transfers targeted on women can reinforce traditional gender roles and can prevent women entering the workforce and gaining a measure of autonomy and independence. Targeted programmes are both expensive and inefficient; examples were given of a programme in Egypt which provided benefits for only 49% of the eligible poor population and another in Philippines which worsened stunting of children among the non-targeted population.
Attention also needs to be paid to the impact of fiscal policies on beneficiary populations. In Brazil, for example, research has shown that the flagship Bolsa Familia programme does not compensate poor families for the resources ‘lost’ by them in regressive taxation.

In Finland social protection measures have evolved piecemeal, often in response to lobbying for particular beneficiary groups. These has had the result that programmes can be inconsistent and can be counterproductive. Finland has over 100 benefits which are delivered nationally or through local municipalities and they interact with each other – through means testing or migration from one system to another – which may deprive individuals or families of the benefits which they desperately need.  There is a broad consensus that the level of social security is too low and that the current basic system does not ‘accord with what happens in life’. There is agreement that reform to deliver ‘flexible social security’ is needed and requires greater resources. The government has embarked on an open and participatory process of reform involving civil society with the aim of a new system in place by 2030.  With transparency a key feature of the reform process, all papers relating to it are published on the government website.

Data and accountability

The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals avoid human rights language – for example, as Philip Alston1 asks, why does Goal 3 talk about healthy lives instead of asserting the right to health? Data collected by states on human rights could be used to assess progress towards the SDGs. Obligatory reporting on rights commitments could reinforce the voluntary reporting required by Agenda 2030.

Indicators chosen to assess SDG progress have been criticised because they measure effort rather than outcome (for example, numbers of children in school rather than learning outcomes) or because they are simply inadequate – for example, suicide mortality rates do not adequately reflect mental health. Much more work needs to be done to be done on measurement to strengthen SDG accountability. One particular challenge is that it is difficult to distinguish inequality with deprivation.

It is possible to provide summary measures of the rights performance of countries using readily available data, which would be relevant to social protection commitments made in the SDGs. The SIRF Index is one example of how to measure governments progressive realisation of social protection. It should be possible to develop a tool to assess the level of data available in countries according to the resources available.

Design matters

Design which is ‘pro poor’ favours the principle of entitlement based on the human rights framework. A key issue is universal rather than targeted as discussed above. To underpin the rights based approach to social policy it is also important to accept social guarantees as the key driver of rights based policy change. This requires a better and more widespread understanding of rights both within governments and civil society, political will to ensure equitable delivery of rights, and the availability of redress mechanisms.


1 Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Deprivation of the Office of UN High Commissioner on Human Rights.

Read the programme here the concept note here and the report here.

Source: February newsletter of the ICSW.

The GCSPF submitted a written statement to the sixty-third session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63) on March 2019. The Statement is here.

Civil Society Call for a Global Fund for Social Protection

Over 200 civil society organizations and trade unions unite to call for a Global Fund for Social Protection to protect the most vulnerable during COVID-19 and beyond.

Read the Call

SP&PFM Programme

The programme Improving Synergies Between Social Protection and Public Finance Management provides medium-term support to multiple countries aiming to strengthen their social protection systems at a national level and ensure sustainable financing. The programme aims to support countries in their efforts towards achieving universal social protection coverage.

This initiative is implemented jointly by the ILO, Unicef, and the GCSPF.

Read more

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