Addressing Inequality: Framing Social Protection in National Development Strategies
Author: Kate Carroll
Size: 7 pages (105 kB)
This article argues that social protection will be most effective in reducing inequality when integrated in a coherent and redistributive national development strategy (NDS). An NDS provides an opportunity to create cross-sectoral synergy to address inequalities. In addition, strong rights, power and inequality analysis is needed to enable social protection mechanisms to target specific inequalities. Achieving a full social protection agenda within an NDS will require collective action across civil society.
While social protection interventions can reduce inequalities, they are not always crafted to do so. Inequality arises from power imbalances, and these can be tackled through redistribution – of income, assets, access to social services and access to power and decision-making. The transfer of power is what makes policies transformational, enabling people to move out of vulnerability in a sustainable way.
To ensure transformation in power relations, social protection needs to be part of a social policy package, including free quality education, universal health care and basic labour rights, within a broad framework of civil and political, social and economic rights. In designing context-specific social protection, a rights and inequality analysis will help to identify the most appropriate combination of interventions and help avoid issues being missed.
There are challenges related to the influencing work needed to ensure that social protection reduces inequality. In general, insufficient attention is paid to human rights by civil society actors. When stakeholders do advocate for human rights and equality, they may not do so as a cohesive group: each organisation tends to promote a different agenda, such as children, the elderly or people living with HIV/AIDS. Other challenges include the following:
One way to address these challenges is to integrate social protection into national development strategies. While NDSs are supposed to be nationally led, however, they tend to be market-oriented in order to attract funding from multilateral institutions and foreign direct investment. ActionAid’s NDS project therefore campaigns for an 'alternative' NDS that recognises the social and economic rights of all citizens and lays out a practical vision for citizen-led development. This vision is to be based on the principles of:
In order to create the policy space for discussions around an alternative NDS, it is important to build on local and national analysis to develop practical redistributive alternatives. In addition:
Carroll, K., 2011, 'Addressing Inequality: Framing Social Protection in National Development Strategies', IDS Bulletin, vol. 42, no. 6, pp.89-95