New York – United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) joined by key voices in international development, reiterates the importance of protecting the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people hit hardest by the socio-economic impact of COVID-19. This call comes under the auspices of the 2020 UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in the event “Half the World: The Many Faces of Social Protection”. Half the world refers to 55 percent of the world’s population that are not covered by social insurance or social assistance, according to ILO data.
Joining the event from Lagos, Nigeria, globally acclaimed Afropop star Yemi Alade shone a spotlight on those suffering the direst consequences of the pandemic, such as young women who are self-employed and are the sole providers for their families.
"We are here to talk about half the world, the half that wakes up every morning to go to work despite and because of the global pandemic,” Alade said. “It’s about the young woman who is struggling to make ends meet and risking her health to provide for her family.”
“Let’s not let billions of the world’s poorest, most vulnerable people fall through the cracks in our society," she said.
The event was hosted by UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner, who reiterated UNDP's responsibility for integrated action and called on all development partners to step up on social protection.
“We cannot afford to become inured to poverty, hunger and jobs figures that keep getting worse. We cannot sleepwalk into a new normal. Unprecedented action is needed, and it is needed now,” Steiner said. “There are some great examples of how developing countries are addressing social protection challenges—from cash to supplements income to in-kind assistance that supplements nutrition, to care systems geared towards working women.”
Steiner added: “Unless we bring fresh perspective and ideas to the table, successful action will depend on an uneven patchwork of social assistance, social insurance and systems of care around the world.”
Among other featured speakers at the event were UNDP’s partners from governments and the international development sector, including HE Cina Lawson, Minister of Postal Affairs and Digital Economy of Togo; Reema Nanavaty, Director General of SEWA (Self Employed Women's Association); Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Dr Guy Standing, Professor at SOAS University of London and co-founder of Basic Income Earth Network; and Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), who joined via a video message.