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International Conference on Social protection reform in Morocco

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The COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic consequences continue to reverberate around the world, with vaccine injustice and structural and systemic asymmetries leading to divergent recoveries.

Due to the pandemic, more than 350 million jobs have been lost. The number of extremely poor increased by between 119 million and 124 million people in 2020 only. World hunger is on the rise with approximately 2 billion people being food insecure.

Worldwide, only 22 per cent of the unemployed receive unemployment benefits, only 28 per cent of persons with severe disabilities receive disability benefits, only 35 per cent of children enjoy effective access to social protection and only 41 per cent of women giving birth receive maternity benefits.

The pandemic also demonstrated that countries with pre-existing protection systems were shielded from the worst impacts of the crisis, including from escalating tensions.

It showed us how critical the right to social protection is for reducing poverty and guaranteeing a life in dignity and for forging resilient and fair societies.

I welcome the important reforms that have been recently introduced in Morocco and the opportunities it holds for people across the country.

The National Framework Law number 09.21 on social protection, adopted last year, is a step in the right direction as it extends social protection and health coverage to a further 11 million workers.

Allow me to outline a few key considerations for the ongoing reforms.

The social protection reforms should aim at building a universal system in which everyone is protected – this could consist of a mix of contributory and non-contributory schemes. Ensuring protection of all, including the most marginalised and who might have not been in a position to contribute formally to the social protection system, increases a society’s capacity to withstand shocks.

In the context of the COVID-19 crisis, Morocco already took the progressive step of creating a Covid-19 Special Fund to provide emergency cash transfers for informal workers.

I encourage Morocco to integrate human rights in its analysis of the gaps of the current social protection system and in designing the reforms.

My Office is supporting States in such approaches. For example, in Timor Leste, together with the Government and ILO, we are exploring strategies to extend social protection coverage to women informal workers who are disproportionately affected by poverty.

A human rights-based analysis shines a light on the multiple dimensions of discrimination and inequality and provides the normative and policy guidance to help put people and their well-being at the centre of legal and policy measures.

It helps identify who is left behind and where measures should be targeted.

For instance, the unpaid care work older women tend to perform throughout their life excludes them from formal employment and, as a result, from contributory social security or decent wages. Pensions systems that take into account women’s unequal burden of unpaid care work through their life cycle, including child-rearing periods, can help correct this imbalance.

Children’s rights should also be central to any reforms being conducted by States. Social protection schemes focused on children have proven effective in the protection and fulfilment of children’s rights, including their rights to life, to health and to education.

States also need to consider including the specific needs of youth in its reform, particularly the situation of young women who suffer from systemic discrimination, fuelled by harmful stereotypes and gendered social norms. Social protection systems that enable higher education, facilitate the transition from school to work and improve labour market opportunities can support youth and unlock their full potential.

I encourage States to mobilize their maximum available resources, including through international cooperation and assistance, in line with their international human rights obligations, to fund the reformed social security system.

Measures could include progressive taxation measures, strengthening tax collection capacity, fighting tax evasion and other forms of abuse, and tackling corruption.

Finally, a broad national debate and participation of all stakeholders, including rights-holders, civil society, trade unions, social movements and feminists groups will be key.

For more information, contact Liz Throssell + 41 22 917 9296 /

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