Role of trade unions in extending social protection coverage to workers in the informal economy and other marginalized groups in Rwanda
20 to 21 March 2023
Social protection is a key instrument for achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1, which aims to eradicate poverty in all its forms everywhere through the inclusion of all people in social protection systems, and contributes to the achievement of SDGs 3, 8 and 10. Workers’ organizations play a crucial role in improving the coverage and effectiveness of social protection for all. They have traditionally been agents of change in this area and are again essential for tripartite participation in the development and reforms of social protection policies as well as in the implementation of social protection schemes and the design of a longer-term strategy to strengthen social protection and decent work systems to support transitions from the informal to the formal economy.
However, workers’ organizations in Rwanda are not equipped with enough knowledge and have inadequate capacities to participate effectively in national social protection policy making and reforms with the result that social protection reforms are often carried out without their meaningful participation and without taking the interests and priorities of workers into account. Often, they are left out in the implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of social protection schemes, including the reporting on the implementation of the SDGs at national level.
With contributory schemes generally limited to those working in the formal economy and non-contributory schemes still mainly targeted at the poorest workers in the informal economy, who make up almost 90 per cent of the Rwandan workforce as well as a growing number of workers in non-standard forms of employment, such as platform workers, most workers still find themselves without effective social security coverage.
The Rwandan trade union movement sees the Covid-19 crisis as a wake-up call to help build forward better with a human-centred approach, in line with the priorities set out in the Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work, 2019, the Call to Action, ILC 2021 Resolution and Conclusions as well as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They are firmly committed to ensuring that social protection gains during the Covid-19 crisis remain a springboard for a resilient recovery through sustained national commitment to sustainable social protection for all.
In responding to constituents’ priorities, as laid down in the ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work and to the call by the Global Commission on the Future of Work, the ILO will conduct this national workshop to contribute to the enhancement of the knowledge of trade union representatives from CESTRAR, COTRAF and COSYLI on:
- Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection for Just Transitions, which aims at bringing together member States, international financial institutions, social partners, civil society, and the private sector to help countries create 400 million decent jobs, including in the green, digital and care economies, and to extend social protection coverage to the 4 billion people currently excluded.
- ACTRAV resource pack which provides guidance specifically to workers’ representatives to contribute to informed and comprehensive policy making and implementation in the defense of workers’ rights in the field of social protection.
- Extending universal, comprehensive, adequate and sustainable social protection to all, including workers in the informal economy and other excluded groups, through creating fiscal space for financing social protection, taking into account the challenges related to the creation of such fiscal space as well as worldwide good practice examples.
- Developing an agenda for trade unions’ actions to advocate for social protection and effectively influence national policies, strategies and planning for extending social protection coverage to all in Rwanda, based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework and the acceleration of the implementation of SDG targets 1.3, 3.8, 8.b and 10.4.
While the national workshop from a medium to long-term perspective aims at empowering trade unions to effectively influence social protection policy making, reforms and implementation at national level, the immediate objective of the workshop is that participants will have:
- Improved knowledge and skills on ACTRAV’s resource package including a workers’ guide to ILO Conventions concerning minimum standards of social security and a series of policy briefs on “what workers’ organizations need to know” in the context of a number of key issues in current social protection debates and policy discussions, and providing in particular policy options for closing gender gaps in social protection, extending social protection to workers in the informal economy, finding fiscal spaces for social protection financing and implementing adequate pension schemes and reforms.
- Gained a better understanding of the role of social protection and its financing mechanisms (including fiscal space), as well as an awareness of the impacts and implications of social security reforms, consequences of strategies and actions in the field of social protection, as well as a good understanding of monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of social protection schemes and reporting of SDG indicators.
- Gained an in-depth understanding of the linkages between the Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection for Just Transitions, Social Protection Agenda, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (2030 Agenda), the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework for the acceleration of the implementation of SDGs in achieving social protection for all in Rwanda.
- Developed a strategic agenda for trade unions’ actions for advocating for social protection and influencing national policies, strategies, and planning for extending social protection coverage for all in Rwanda.