To achieve the empowerment of women and girls, it is essential that their needs, rights and preferences at every stage of their lives are met.
HelpAge International and our global network members and partners are therefore calling for rights-based and gender-responsive social protection throughout the life course to be enshrined in the Agreed Conclusions of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).
We believe that the zero-draft, circulated at the end of January, provides a strong basis on which to build commitments to enhance social protection and gender equality for all women and girls, including older women.
We urgently wish to share with Member States our reflections on this draft, in advance of this week’s deadline for inputs on 15 February, and before informal negotiations begin.
We welcome the draft’s expected recognition of social protection for women of all ages across their lifecourse (para 2) and of the barriers women and girls face to their enjoyment of social protection due to intersecting forms of discrimination based on age, disability and other factors. (para 11).
We fully support the need to take a rights-based and gender-responsive approach to social protection, including the design of social protection schemes to address gender-bias in social protection schemes (para 15 c, i, j) and for universal and gender-responsive social protection systems that ensure income security of all women across their lifecourse (para 15 j).
We endorse the call to improve the adequacy of benefits (para 15 k) and the collection and use of data (para 15 hh, ii).
Nonetheless, we feel that the case for rights-based and gender-responsive social protection throughout the life course could be strengthened with additional language.
The draft’s commitment to the universal right to social protection throughout the life course would be further reinforced by referencing the International Labour Organization’ Recommendation on Social Protection Floors (R202), which recognizes that social security is an important tool to promote equal opportunity and gender equality.
Stronger guidance could be provided in the text on the monitoring of progress in implementing and expanding social protection floors and systems, including on the collection, compilation, analysis and publication of social security data, statistics and indicators, disaggregated by gender, age, disability, marital status, and location.
The text should also take a bolder stand on discrimination and call for the enactment, strengthening and enforcement of laws and regulatory frameworks that ensure equality and prohibit discrimination against women.
While the draft recognizes the challenges experienced by women and girls in relation to the unequal and gendered distribution of unpaid care and work, the text could more clearly outline how laws and regulatory frameworks can promote the reconciliation and sharing of work and family responsibilities between women and men.
Finally, the text would benefit from recognizing the challenges that most women around the world face in achieving income security in older age through social security instruments (contributory pensions) that are tied to continuous formal employment, which rarely reflect their life courses and employment trajectories. The text should therefore call for the promotion of legal, administrative and policy measures that ensure all women’s full and equal access to pensions and income security in older age through an appropriate mix of contributory and non-contributory schemes.
Our text suggestions can be found in this annotated version of the draft Agreed Conclusions.
We believe that with these amendments and inclusions, the Agreed Conclusions will lay the foundations for a major step-change for gender-inclusive social protection systems worldwide.
About HelpAge International
HelpAge International is a global network of organisations promoting the right of all older people to lead dignified, healthy and secure lives. We have a strong, value-based position which puts the experience of older women and men at the centre of our work.
For further information contact:
Global advisor- Social Protection, HelpAge International