Policy in Focus : Volume 15, Issue No. 3 • December 2018 - Social protection: meeting children's rights and needs
Despite significant progress in the reduction of extreme poverty in recent years, millions of children are still poor or vulnerable to poverty. There is growing consensus that poverty comprises more dimensions than just monetary. Social protection policies can help address the multifaceted nature of child poverty and improve children’s well-being, especially in the areas of education, health and nutrition. However, it is important to consider the gender-, age- and context-specific needs and vulnerabilities of children during all stages of the policy cycle.
This issue of Policy in Focus presents a collection of 15 articles from leading scholars, researchers and policy practitioners, shedding light on the key challenges of promoting social protection programmes for children.
These contributions feature a diverse selection of case studies from Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and sub-Saharan Africa.
Social protection should be understood as both an investment and an obligation to meet children’s rights.
Organisations concerned with the latter, such as UNICEF, have long promoted a universal approach to social protection. Yet, while evidence points to the benefits of universal child grants, there is still much to be discussed in terms of gaps in knowledge. Irrespective of the type of social protection policy being considered, the articles in this volume show that child poverty assessments can play a crucial role in informing the design of programmes.
A key message that comes through in this issue is that social protection is, by itself, no ‘silver bullet’.
Therefore, ‘cash plus’ initiatives, offering components aimed at achieving behavioural change or improving access to social services, have gained traction.
The articles on the role of social protection in tackling violence against children and achieving safe transitions into adulthood further show that multisectoral responses remain indispensable. The importance of considering potential barriers to accessing benefits, such as cumbersome administrative procedures and lack of awareness, is also emphasised. In addition, the case of Mozambique illustrates the importance of a conscious social protection strategy for the introduction of new programmes or the scale-up of existing ones.
Authors also discuss what needs to be taken into account to tailor social protection programmes to the specific needs of particularly vulnerable children, such as children with disabilities, children on the move or those living in geographically isolated areas. Finally, there is promising evidence of the impact of social protection programmes on child-related outcomes.
Case studies from Argentina, Brazil, and India analyse these effects on indicators related to consumption, nutrition, health, and education, identifying programme limitations and pointing to future directions.
We hope that this volume can serve as a platform for further research and discussion, providing useful evidence to promote child-sensitive social protection policies and contributing to the realisation of children’s rights.
Anna Carolina Machado and Charlotte Bilo