National stakeholders’ workshop on achieving SDGs and ending poverty through Social Protection

A national stakeholders’ workshop was organised by the ILO as part of the project ‘Achieving SDGs and Ending Poverty through Social Protection’, funded by the UN Peace and Development Trust Funds pledged by the Government of China. The project is being jointly implemented by the ILO and UNDESA in Cambodia and Pakistan.

Press release | Islamabad, Pakistan | 15 May 2019
Islamabad (ILO News): The session drew the participation of various stakeholders such as; social protection agencies at the federal level, Department of Labour and associated wings of social security and workers welfare representing Provincial Governments, Workers representatives, Employers organisations, Academia, UN Agencies and development partners.

H.E Me Yao Jing, the Ambassador to Peoples’ Republic of China to Pakistan, inaugurated the opening session. Ambassador Yao Jing, not only appreciated the steps being taken by the new Government but also expressed his complete support and cooperation in delivering productive output for the marginalized segment of the society. He also mentioned optimising the opportunity arising out of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and to embed social protection into the collaboration.

Ms Ingrid Christensen, Country Director, ILO Country Office for Pakistan welcomed the participants to the session and appreciated how the new programme EHSAAS reaffirms the Government’s commitment to extending social protection to all including the most vulnerable and the programme reinforces the contribution of Pakistan to the regional and international efforts to accelerate progress on SDGs through Social Protection.

Ms Wenyan Yang, Chief, Chief, Global Dialogue for Social Development Branch, Division for Inclusive Social Development (DISD), UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in her video message said that social protection is vital for inclusive development especially for vulnerable groups to shield them from the adverse impacts of shocks and structural changes, and to lift them out of systemic poverty.

The partnership with UNDESA is one of the many partnerships of the UN agencies on social protection and poverty alleviation programmes as part of the UN Sustainable Development Framework and more specifically Outcome 10 of the UNSDF (2018-2022).

The ILO in Pakistan is geared to provide policy advice and technical assistance to the constituents under the joint ILO-UNDESA project which resonates with the national priorities, including Vision 2025, EHSAAS, Decent Work Country Programme (2016-2020). She elaborated that there is a need to use and scale good models such as the use of information and communication technology (ICT) to reduce the administrative costs of delivering social protection and improving program efficiency. Developing a harmonised social protection system that can improve manage data on beneficiaries, help in tracking and reporting on progress and that is accessible to beneficiaries.

She thanked the Chinese Government for their financial assistance and applauded the Chinese Government for receiving the prestigious Award for Outstanding Achievement in Social Security from the International Social Security Association (ISSA). She said that the project will benefit from the experiences of China in extension of pensions, health insurance and other forms of social protection.

The workshop featured a presentation on the mapping of social protection programmes and schemes in Pakistan. Ms Safiya Aftab from Verso Consulting shared the findings of the study focusing the nature and scope of current social protection programmes, revealing both the opportunities offered by Pakistan’s significant outlay and the various challenges.

Experts on legislation, data, SDGs monitoring, labour economy, workers and employers perspectives, policy and advocacy joined the panel discussions and gave concrete recommendations on the three main outputs of the joint ILO-UNDESA project; data needs and gaps; coordination and fragmentation and coverage and extension of social protection.

The use of One Window Operation, harmonised beneficiary registry, registration drives for informal sector workers and employers, capacity building in data collation and analysis, extension of social protection floors, mobilising alliances at local and global level including Global Business Network and Civil Society Coalition, were discussed as key recommendations.

Ms Shaista Sohail, Secretary, Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division, while addressing the audience at the closing session, said that EHSAAS (Compassion) programme is set to change the plight of the under privileged in the country and all the government departments and divisions are coordinating with each other to make it a success. Though it will take some time to transform the lives of the poor who constitute 38 percent of the 220 million population of the country, yet once executed the programme will bring real change in the lives of ‘have-nots’ and lift them from abject poverty and neglect. She said that the programme envisions collecting data of poor and deserving people through an extensive national survey. Under the protection programme, people will be able to avail legal aid. Education grant will also be provided for the backward areas. Saving accounts of 5.7 million women will be made and they will be provided mobile phones so that they can acquire financial aid in a transparent matter. 500 digital hubs will be established at tehsil level so that apart from the financial aid, business ideas can be provided specially to youth.

Ms Ingrid Christensen, Country Director, ILO Country Office for Pakistan closed the event with a vote of thanks and assured that there will be more national dialogues on the much needed issue of social protection.