In the framework of the S&D Group’s Africa Week - taking place between the 5th and the 11th April 2016- the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), the Global Progressive Forum (GPF) and SOLIDAR co-organised a roundtable discussion on decent work and social protection for Africa.
The roundtable offered the opportunity for an open exchange between CSOs from South Africa, Malawi and Uganda and policy makers. Norbert Neuser (S&D group’s coordinator for development policy), highlighted that the Cotonou revision will be a renewed opportunity to promote the progressive realisation of Econmic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCRs) and achieve decent for and social protection for all. Linda McAvan (S&D, Chair of EP DEVE Committee) pointed out that social protection should be a central piece of the Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs) implementation strategy and that social protection systems should be made sustainable by, among others, the setup of fair taxation systems.
During the roundtable, Sophia Kisting from the People´s Health Movement South Africa highlighted that in order for social protection systems’ sustainability to be ensured, occupational health and safety at work, and hence preventive health care, should be strengthened. John-Jean Barya from the Makerere University in Uganda stressed that the realisation of the human right to social protection requires a change in the mainstream economic paradigm based – in Uganda such as elsewhere - on neo liberal economic policies, and privatisation. At the same time, he underlined the need to guarantee the ratification and the respect of international labour standards as well as to support local membership based civil society organisations (CSOs), in particular the trade unions, in order to ensure that national governments fulfill their commitments. Kaluzi Simekinala from the Africa Social Protection Platform Malawi closed the round of interventions emphasising the role of local CSOs as strategic allies for both International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) operating in developing countries as well as for the EU, with whom they share values and principles such as the respect of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. For this reason, he called on the EU to strengthen its structural dialogue with local CSOs saying that “CSOs are an important component in the path to ensure social protection for all: we raise awareness among local communities on the right to social protection, we bring in our expertise to shape national social protection policies and programs, we push the Government of Malawi to set up meaningful dialogues with all relevant actors on social protection…”
Conny Reuter, Secretary General of SOLIDAR, stressed in his conclusions “as the development of European social security systems has demonstrated, social protection is affordable and rather than being a cost it should be considered an investment in people and able to foster inclusive economic growth.”
During the roundtable discussion the outcomes of the Social Protection Monitor were presented. The monitor is a common initiative by SOLIDAR, the FES and the African Platform for Social Protection. The main recommendations to the EU that were drawn from this exercise on how decent work and social protection for all can be achieved, can be found here (general outcomes). In the meantime the country specific outcomes have been published in the shape of country monitoring reports.
Photos of the roundtable discussion can be found here.