Webinar Invitation: Work Bank, IMF and Universal Social Protection following COVID-19: The Good, the Bad and the Unclear

The webinar the “Work Bank, IMF and Universal Social Protection following COVID-19: The Good, the Bad and the Unclear” will take place on 20 October at 14:00 GMT+1.

Register here

Speakers

Lena Simet, Senior Researcher on Poverty and Inequality, Human Rights Watch

Tavengwa Nhongo, Executive Director, African Platform for Social Protection

Daisy Sibun, Social Policy Officer, Development Pathways

Isabel Ortiz, Director, Global Social Justice Program, Initiative for Policy Dialogue

Evelyn Astor, Economic and Social Policy Advisor, International Trade Union Confederation

Ghislaine Saizonou Broohm, Coordinator of the Department of Equality and Social, ITUC Africa

Florian Juergens-Grant, Project Manager, Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing

Moderator Rachel Moussié, Director of Programmes, Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing

The devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the ongoing crises driving up the cost of food and basic necessities for many around the world, highlight the urgent need for all countries to make rapid progress towards achieving universal social protection.

While human rights and international labour standards clearly recognise that ensuring adequate social protection is a responsibility of national governments, international cooperation plays an important role in supporting countries to realise those responsibilities. This may come in the form of financial support to countries struggling to finance the full required social protection system, as well as technical advice on the design and implementation. International organisations also influence international and national debates on what social protection should look like, and who should pay for it.

International financial institutions (IFIs), such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) that offer access to financing for cash-strapped governments can be particularly influential. Both have scaled-up their engagement in social protection in recent years: The World Bank is by far the largest external donor of social protection, while the IMF has recently published its first strategy outlining when and how to engage on social spending.

Civil society organisations, unions, workers’ organisations and some UN agencies have generally been critical of IFIs focus and track-record on social protection, stressing their perceived lack of regard to rights and labour standards, as well as their consistent emphasis on exclusionary safety nets, conditionalities and privatisation.

Then COVID-19 happened, and it seemed like everything was going to change. During the height of the crisis, the IMF has supported higher expenditure on health care and cash transfer programmes even when it meant higher fiscal deficit and public debt. A few months ago, the IMF published its first gender strategy. The World Bank likewise provided substantive support to the expansion of social protection during the pandemic and its brand-new social protection strategy is explicitly framed around achieving USP.

In this webinar, representatives from different CSOs, unions and workers’ organisations will share their perspectives on whether, and if so, how, IFIs have changed their position on social protection in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on newly published evidence, we will discuss what is new regarding IFI’s engagement on social protection, what counts as progress, and what are areas where IFIs may continue to fall short on realising the right to social protection for all.

Organisers:

Action Contre La Faim, ACF (Action Against Hunger), Act Church of Sweden, The Africa Platform for Social Protection, APSP, Development Pathways Initiative for Policy Dialogue, Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors, Human Rights Watch, International Trade Union Confederation, ITUC, African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation, ITUC-Africa/CSI-Afrique and Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing, WIEGO.

Resources:

Human Rights Watch: IMF/World Bank: Targeted Safety Net Programs Fall Short on Rights Protection

WIEGO and ITUC Africa: Building Forward Better: Investing in Africa’s Workers (also in French and Spanish)

WIEGO: World Bank’s Push for Individual Savings Provides Little Protection for Crisis-hit Workers (also in French and Spanish)

Initiative for Policy Dialogue (IPD), Global Social Justice (GSJ), International Confederation of Trade Unions (ITUC), Public Services International (PSI), ActionAid International, Arab Watch Coalition, Bretton Woods Project, Eurodad, Financial Transparency Coalition, Latindadd, Third World Network (TNW)

ITUC response to the World Bank’s Social Protection and Job Compass

ITUC response to the IMF’s Framework on Social Spending

Wemos: END AUSTERITY. A Global Report on Budget Cuts and Harmful Social Reforms in 2022-25

Development Pathways and Act Church of Sweden, Social registries: a short history of abject failure

Act Church of Sweden, Action Against Hunger France, Development Pathways, Can a leopard change its spots?

Read more at socialprotection.org