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Build the case for shame-proof social protection, conference told


The presentation at the University of Oxford highlighted how a human rights-based approach impacted on social protection design and implementationThe presentation at the University of Oxford highlighted how a human rights-based approach impacted on social protection design and implementation

A conference on policy directions for Chile has heard the case for a social protection system that does not treat people in poverty as a distinct, less deserving group. 

Alexandra Barrantes, Senior Social Policy Specialist at Development Pathways, sets out a vision of a human rights-based approach to social protection that makes the dignity of individuals central. Such systems do not assume individuals are undeserving — which requires the countering of narratives that ‘the poor’ are lazy, according to her presentation.

Alexandra’s presentation, available below, at the conference — Chile: What kind of country do we want to be?  — highlighted that attitudinal surveys suggested that further work was required to make the case for an inclusive social protection system. 

According to the Chile Survey 2015, 41% believe that poverty is caused by the laziness of individuals. The 2018 National Human Rights Survey, meanwhile, indicates that 40% of people believe that the rights of those in poverty are not respected. 

“Whilst we have made many advances, we need to invest more time in thinking about how narratives on poverty affect programme design and implementation,” Alexandra commented, adding that schemes provided within inclusive social protection systems “have no stigma or shame attached”. 

The intervention came at the conference supported by the Embassy of Chile, the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Governance, and LSE’s School of Public Policy and organised by Chilean researchers in the U.K. 

It was made during the panel on Challenges for Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation. Adriana Conconi, Executive Director of Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative, presented the case of Chile’s Multidimensional Poverty Index and some of the key considerations in the selection of the dimensions.

Human rights-based approach to ensure shame-proof social protection
Alexandra Barrantes.

Alexandra stressed the importance of also looking into issues around dignity and human rights considerations when we discuss policies that are meant to address poverty, pointing to some of the mainstream negative narratives surrounding poverty and deservingness. 

Linked to these negative narratives around poverty, Prof Anandi Mani, Professor of Behavioural Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford presented some of her latest research on the choices people in poverty have to go through in their daily lives. Her research provides some evidence around how poverty impedes cognitive function and the effects of different types of income shocks.  

Alexandra Barrantes leads projects to build social protection systems in Angola and Malawi, has written on the need for a human rights-based approach to social protection and will also be leading our Pathways team in launching a new training course, Inclusive Social Protection: Making the Case, later this year. Don’t miss out, join our mailing list