Social protection: Looking back, preparing the future


Valérie SchmittDeputy Director, Social Protection Department

In 2019, the ILO will celebrate its 100th anniversary. This is an opportunity to look back at 100 years of social protection and how we can accelerate the achievement of universal social protection in the future.

Let’s imagine a world in which no child needs to work to help its parents, in which no mother has to go back to work the day after delivering her baby, in which no older person has to continue to work until he or she dies, and in which no person with a disability is forced to beg on the street. For too many of us such a world is still a dream: 55 per cent of the world’s population live without social protection.

Those who have access to health insurance, unemployment benefits, and old-age pensions often do not realize that social protection is a privilege of a minority of citizens of this world.  The 100th anniversary of the ILO gives us the unique opportunity to accelerate the achievement of universal social protection.


Together with our global social protection team, ILO members and partners, we have launched a campaign 100 years of social security with the ILO: the road to universal social protection to complete a process that has been initiated 100 years ago. We talk about a combined campaign relying on knowledge sharing, awareness raising, and fundraising.

Going beyond ILO’s traditional audience

The idea is that any of us can contribute to making universal social protection a reality for all. This is why our campaign goes beyond the ILO’s traditional audience of governments, social and development partners, and academia. We want to include a wider public, from the private sector to the philanthropic community. We propose a variety of ways of taking action, from smaller to larger initiatives, for individuals and for groups. We want people around the world to advocate for social protection as a human right.

The campaign will look at the past, present and future of social protection. It is strongly anchored in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and encourages the widest possible audience to take action to achieve SDG 1.3 on universal social protection.

This means looking at the ILO’s past achievements in extending social protection globally, taking stock of the current situation and the challenges ahead.

To highlight our history and achievements, an exhibition on 100 years of social protection will be promoted through public events and in schools around the globe. A compendium of 100 country cases will offer insights into countries’ successful experiences in developing social protection systems. National and regional events will take stock of efforts to strengthen social protection and consider its future. Our Ratify and Apply initiative aims at fast tracking the ratification process of the ILO’s Social Security Convention No.102. These events will culminate in a Global Social Protection Week at ILO headquarters in Geneva in November 2019.

All this information can be found on a dedicated SOCPRO centenary website which will be the landing page for the activities already mentioned and more:

  • A social media campaign which allows posting a picture of I support #USP2030 and uploading it on social media with the hashtag #USP2030;
  • A fund raising campaign for our Global Flagship Programme for Social Protection Floors for ;
  • A Youth Hub, an internal ILO platform to mobilise and engage ILO staff and their networks in favour of social protection.

As you can see, we want to engage all, from governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations to the wider public. It is an ambitious project aimed at creating a culture of social protection throughout the world, and to build momentum for achieving universal social protection.

Social protection should not be a choice. It is a human right: Support #USP2030.

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