The vital role of social protection in the fight against inequality

Winnie Byanyima

Winnie Byanyima is the Executive Director of Oxfam International. ©Oxfam International

When I talk about schools and hospitals in the fight against poverty and inequality, people generally nod in agreement. They may have different ideas about how they should be run and paid for, but we agree on the power of health and the power of education.

But when we talk about social protection there is much greater confusion:  confusion created by competing political ideologies, differing economic demands, by misunderstanding about what it is, what it can do and who should be driving it.

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“I was in child labour. Now I’m getting my MBA.”

Usman Bilal

Usman Bilal, a former child labourer, is an MBA student and child-labour activist.

When I was young, I lived in my village in Pakistan with my father, mother, three brothers and four sisters. My father was a carpenter and he worked hard to build a bright future for his family, but his income was too low to make this possible.

So, in 2001, when I was just ten, my parents sent me far away, to my maternal uncle’s workshop in the village of Bhagwal Awan, in the district of Sialkot, to make surgical instruments. I didn’t want to go, I wanted to stay in school and study, but I had no choice.

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The blind spot of efforts to tackle human trafficking

Igor Bosc

Igor Bosc is Chief Technical Advisor, Work in Freedom Programme, ILO Decent Work Team for South Asia and Country Office for India.

Every time the clarions of war are heard about fighting human trafficking, policy efforts tend to focus on addressing the alleged naivety of those who are trafficked and prosecuting the pimps or middlemen who recruit people for work. As the prevailing logic goes, migrants should know better and recruiters should be put on a tight leash. Rarely much is done about addressing issues at the demand end – where people work.

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