UN: ILO says mothers, children need more social protection

New York, US (PANA) - The International Labour Organization (ILO) on Monday called for greater social protection for women and children as the UN draws up a new development agenda, citing alarming statistics, including that some 800 women die in child birth every day and only 28 per cent of employed women receive cash benefits during their maternity leave.

Ms. Isabel Ortiz, Director of the ILO Social Protection Department, in a statement on two reports released late last week, said: "At a time when the world is discussing a post-2015 development agenda, it is essential that the international community identifies financing sources for social protection, or social security guarantees to protect women against economic distress and hardship."

She noted that difficulties were caused by the absence or a substantial reduction of income from work because of illness, maternity, lack of employment, disability, old age and others.

She said in the "Social Protection for Maternity: Key policy trends and statistics" report, ILO noted that only 36 per cent of employed women were legally entitled to cash benefits during their maternity leave.

In practice, however, maternity leave legislation is not implemented effectively, so only 28 per cent of working women are covered in case of maternity.

Ms. Ortiz said: "Around 800 women die from childbirth every day, and in addition, 18,000 children also pass away daily. The sad reality is that despite efforts carried out as part of the Millennium Development Goals process, maternal and child mortality rates in developing countries are still very high.

"Most of these deaths are preventable with adequate social protection; universal maternal and child health care is key to reducing high mortality rates, together with cash transfers to ensure adequate food, clothing, and access to social services."

Meanwhile, ILO said a related report, "Social protection for children: Key policy trends and statistics", also painted a worrying picture.

It said that, while there had been an explosion of small cash transfer schemes in recent years, there was also a considerable gap with regard to the availability of adequate child and family benefits.

According to ILO, a worrying trend was that in some countries, the levels of maternity and child protection benefits had dropped as a result of fiscal consolidation policies.

The reports include detailed national data on maternity protection and child and family benefits for 188 countries surveyed.

They looked at a sample of 57 low- and lower middle-income countries and show that introducing a basic universal maternity cash benefit would require, on average, 0.41 per cent of national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

It stated that having universal child benefits would, on average, require 1.9 per cent of national GDP.

It also revealed that the projected costs for a basic universal child benefit vary greatly between countries, ranging from 5.2 per cent of GDP for Niger to 0.2 per cent of GDP for Guyana, considering that children constitute a large proportion of the population in these countries.

The report said the same variation applied to basic universal maternity protection, where it ranged from less than 0.1 per cent of GDP in Bhutan, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Morocco, Sri Lanka and Viet Nam to 1.1 per cent of GDP in Niger.
-0- PANA AA/MA 11May2015

11 may 2015 20:40:43

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