Social inclusion for equity is both a lens through which to see and evaluate programming and a key strategy for UNICEF.
This emphasis on equity is reflected in the UNICEF perspective on social protection, which is aimed at preventing, reducing and eliminating economic and social vulnerabilities to poverty and deprivation.
Social protection plays a vital role in strengthening the resilience of children, families and communities, achieving greater equity and supporting national human and economic development. In line with this equity focus,
UNICEF India recognizes that while social protection is important for societies in general, it is crucial to reach the most vulnerable children and families – for whom barriers tend to remain even when services and national human development averages improve.
For example, while improving the availability of schools and quality of education will help get more children to enrol and stay in school, the children of poor families who cannot afford school supplies or who depend on income from child labour are still likely to not enrol, attend less and drop out early. In India, this equity focus becomes more critical due to the large youth population and the potential demographic dividend that can be yielded by the country.
We work with the Government of India to ensure that programmes and policies are child-centred and child-sensitive. UNICEF India has undertaken research to strengthen the evidence base around social policy and social protection in this regard. For example, a study has been undertaken to evaluate the effects of unconditional cash transfers for poor households in the Indian context.
UNICEF India is currently also in the process of developing a social protection framework which will guide our work in this area for India. In addition, going forward, there will be more focus on formulating partnerships with national counterparts and strengthening relationships with multilateral organizations working in the social protection domain.
UNICEF India has a comparative advantage in working in social protection, as the organization takes a multi-sectoral approach to support the rights and wellbeing of children from infancy through to adolescence. In addition, UNICEF India’s decentralized field presence is helpful in monitoring implementation of social protection programmes targeting children.
The key emerging areas for UNICEF India’s work on social inclusion through social protection for adolescents include enhancing individual capacities during adolescence, reducing the skills deficit, securing access to secondary education and ameliorating vulnerabilities faced by migrant children.