The case for social protection for children
Introduction Policies to promote broad-based economic growth are fundamental to social as well as economic development, but the benefits of growth do not automatically reach the poorest and most marginalized families. Despite large investments in expanding the coverage of health, education and other basic social services in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), barriers still exist that prevent adequate utilization of these services by the poor. Consequently, direct interventions are required to reach the socially and economically excluded. Social protection programs can play a key role in protecting consumption and ensuring social development among those citizens who cannot be reached through traditional sector approaches, and this explains why strengthening social protection systems is becoming a priority area of work for governments, donors, United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the region. Among many governments and their development partners, social protection is now considered part of the essential package of basic social services that the state ought to provide to its citizens. While the term “social protection” is relatively new for agencies that focus on children’s well-being, child rights and child protection concerns are often at the heart of social protection efforts, and many activities of agencies such as UNICEF and Save the Children fall clearly within the social protection sphere. The main objective of this chapter is to provide a conceptual framework for social protection that demonstrates the linkages between social protection and children’s welfare, broadly defined. A second objective is to introduce the concept of “child-sensitive” social protection and to provide some guiding principles to ensure that the special circumstances of children and women are adequately addressed within national social protection systems.