1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Gender Equality: Striving for Justice in an Unequal World (Arabic edition)


From Chapter 8 – The search for a new social policy agenda

Livelihoods in today’s world are subject to a range of insecurities. These are acute in contexts where few people work with an employment contract and the associated rights to work-related benefits, and where domestic production processes are increasingly exposed to fluctuations and recessions in global markets. When earnings and incomes have plummeted and jobs have disappeared, people have little to fall back on. Not only are formal social protection mechanisms missing in many developing countries for the millions of women and men who work in the informal economy, but contingencies such as ill-health, childbirth and old age are themselves powerful drivers of impoverishment, as earnings fall and assets are depleted to purchase health care in increasingly commercialized contexts.

There has recently been more recognition of these realities. The 1990s saw a dramatic shift in global policy pronouncements acknowledging the vital role of social policy to the development process. This was not just a rhetorical shift. This was a far cry from the “market fundamentalism” of the early 1980s, which focused narrowly on “getting prices right”, and never mind the social consequences.

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