More than 4 billion people lack social protection as COVID-19 wreaks havoc

The International Labor Organization reports that more than 4 billion people around the world lack social protection as the COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc on their lives and livelihoods.

The ILO’s World Social Protection Report 2020-2022 reveals how devastating COVID-19 has been in the world of work. It exposes the inequality between rich countries which are beginning to rebound from the economic distress of the pandemic and developing countries which remain deeply mired in poverty.

In addition, the report finds that less than half of the world’s population, or 47%, are covered by at least one social protection benefit, while 4.1 billion people, or 53%, have no security. income.

The report highlights some of the significant regional inequalities in social protection. For example, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder notes that in Europe and Central Asia 84 percent of the population receives at least one social protection benefit. In Africa, only 17.4 percent of the population is covered.

FILE – Women line up for a planned food distribution for people suffering from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, at a site in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya, April 10, 2020.

“The vast majority of the world’s children, 73.6%, do not receive any social protection benefits,” he said. “Only 44.9 percent of pregnant and childbearing women receive cash maternity benefit. Only 39 percent of the working-age population is legally entitled to sickness benefits. pandemic conditions. “

While most retired workers receive an old age pension, the report finds that their benefits are often not enough to make ends meet. Ryder says gaps in social protection, such as lack of sickness benefits and employment, can undermine other key policy priorities, such as those surrounding public health.

“The crisis has confirmed the urgent need for a basic level of social security for all – what we call a social protection floor. We must do more to ensure that everyone has legally guaranteed access to adequate social protection throughout. of its life cycle, ”he said. noted.

The report describes several priority actions to achieve this, including by calling for the strengthening of national social security policies and the extension of adequate social protections to workers in all types of employment.

ILO says gaps in social protection need to be addressed, especially for women, people in the informal economy and for migrant workers.

Joel C. Hicks