Social security in Asia and the Pacific

Social protection service in Mongolia.

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The importance of social security in social and economic development has become more and more apparent. Social security should not be seen as a cost, but as an investment in human capital that leads to better productivity. It is also an effective way of reducing poverty, encouraging equity and supporting economic and social stability. Support is growing for the position that, even from an early stage of economic development, countries can provide basic social security benefits, and doing this will help them grow in a more equitable manner.

Social security coverage is currently very limited world-wide, but particularly in Asia where more than one billion workers are in so-called vulnerable employment, namely rural farmers, self-employed persons and those working in small enterprises with unstable status such as short-term contracts, part-time jobs and hence lacking necessary protections they deem to have.

The ILO continuously advocates and fosters the extension of social security through research, knowledge sharing, technical services, the development of appropriate tools and other capacity-building activities. The ILO's work in this area places particular emphasis on technical services, knowledge products and policy advice that will support the extension of social protection.

The ILO has launched a global campaign to extend social security coverage. At the 14th ILO Asian Regional Meeting in 2006, "extending the effectiveness and coverage of social protection for all, including workers in the informal economy" was chosen as one of the priority areas for the Asian Decent Work Decade, announced at the same event.